(Photo credit: Google)
Google launched the ‘Legalise Love‘ campaign on Sunday (7 July 2012) to encourage countries which continue to criminalize homosexuality to decriminalize homosexuality and to encourage the acceptance of LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning) individuals.
In their statement, Google shared that, “Though our business and employees are located in offices around the world, our policies on non-discrimination are universal throughout Google. We are proud to be recognised as a leader in LGBT inclusion efforts, but there is still a long way to go to achieve full equality. Legalise Love is our call to decriminalise homosexuality and eliminate homophobia around the world.
At Google, we encourage people to bring their whole selves to work. In all of our 60 offices around the world, we are committed to cultivating a work environment where Googlers can be themselves and thrive. We also want our employees to have the same inclusive experience outside of the office, as they do at work, and for LGBT communities to be safe and to be accepted wherever they are.”
Google’s Mark Palmer-Edgecumbe had shared that Google has decided to launch the campaign in Singapore because, “Singapore wants to be a global financial center and world leader and we can push them on the fact that being a global center and a world leader means you have to treat all people the same, irrespective of their sexual orientation.”
The campaign website can be found at: http://www.google.com/diversity/legalise-love.html
I’m very excited that Google has decided to launch the campaign in Singapore. Firstly, I’m excited because this will provide a platform for LGBTQ individuals in Singapore to advocate for their rights. It also means that there can now be a renewed vigour within our community for the advocacy of our rights.
This is thanks, in part to PinkDot and their successful campaign and partnership with Google, as well as Google’s commitment and their sense of social responsibility to equal rights, and their extensive capacity to be able to advocate effectively in their realm.
Singapore is actually very well-placed, among the current crop of countries which continue to retain the archaic law which criminalizes gay sex, to be able to move beyond towards decriminalization.
If we look at other countries where gay rights have been achieved at various levels, Singapore actually compares favourably, as ironic as it may seem. For example, if you look at Brazil, it may be a country where gay sex is legal but around 200 LGBTQ people are killed every year for hate crimes targeted at LGBTQ people. In South Africa, same sex marriage is legal but there is still corrective rape targeted at lesbian women – to “turn them straight”. There are civil unions in the UK but there is also violence enacted against LGBTQ people. In America, gay youths would commit suicide because of the bullying they face in school.
In Singapore, it might still be illegal for gays to have sex. But the government has said that they would not proactively enforce the law. Of course, if they decide to change their minds – they can do so, and that’s why Google’s campaign is so important.
(Photo credit: suite101.com)
I do think Singapore provides a safe and, ironic as it is, a supportive environment for LGBTQ individuals to grow in. The government might keep up with the propaganda speech that Singapore is conservative – they need to so, so that conservative Singaporeans will vote for them. Our government functions a bit like the Republicans in the States in that sense. But if we look beyond their rhetoric, we know Singapore isn’t all that conservative. It’s propaganda. We also know the government isn’t policing gay issues as much because they know they shouldn’t. There are obvious economic reasons, and gradually, also the recognition of basic right issues which affects their thinking.
Our government, I think, isn’t against gays having our rights, but they have to keep up with the anti-gay rhetoric, or rather, pro-family front. They need to appease the conservative factions and they need to keep up with the conservative votes. So we should, as much as possible, understand that stance. Of course whether this stance is truly theirs, or one that is imagined is open for debate.
But what this means is this – if we know that underlying it all, the government isn’t unsupportive, we know that we can continue learn to live our lives as LGBTQ people and learn to function as well as we can. And this is also one reason why Google has picked Singapore to launch the campaign. They know our government is not unsupportive. No corporate company would pitch themselves against a government if it’s not in their interest. Of course, Google has generally tried to push against boundaries as well. But I think Google is betting on our government looking at repealing the law (against gay sex) in the near future and have placed their eggs in our basket – it would be in their favor when the government does repeal 377A. It’s a win-win situation.
Of course, even though we are in a safe environment to grow in, LGBTQ people don’t sometimes realise it, because the government’s public discourse seems to be against the practice of our rights. We need to perhaps learn to read between the lines.
What I do think is that, this means that given a safe environment, we can decide to learn to accept ourselves better, learn to have better self esteem, so that we can learn to be stronger gay individuals and be able to develop our overall well-being favourably. I think for now, this would be of utmost importance for gay people in Singapore – to recognise ourselves and our strengths, believe in ourselves and stand up for ourselves.
Singapore offers a safe and favorable environment for LGBTQ individuals to learn more about themselves and there’s the availability of structural features which facilitate the development of our well-being, if we learn to take advantage of it, for ourselves, to grow and support one another in this growth. The ball, it can be said, is in our court now.
Google cannot run this campaign on its own. It needs the support, strength and courage of LGBTQ individuals in Singapore to rally behind it, to believe in ourselves and our dignity, to come together and realise our potential as one, and to believe that we have a right to be recognised because it is our given right. We are born this way.
So, what say you, my fellow LGBTQ friends and family members of these friends in Singapore, will we take pride in ourselves, and take up the mantle to live our lives with dignity, acceptance, respect and self-belief?
I know I have.