Compromise Lies Behind Singapore’s New Approach to LGBT Rights

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09/01/2022

Growing up in a conservative Christian neighborhood in Singapore, Brenda Eng and Pearlyn Tam never imagined they would lead the life they do today. The lesbian couple share a home, run a business and raise a daughter, and are an accepted fixture of their community. An announcement last week showed how much the city-state has changed, though it came with a trade-off. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said the government will repeal a law that criminalizes sex between men, which isn’t enforced but that rights advocates say stigmatizes homosexuality. At the same time, he said the government would move to safeguard its definition of marriage as between a man and a woman. The ruling party, which has won majority support for six decades, struck the compromise to manage shifting attitudes in a society that remains deeply divided over the issue of LGBT rights.

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