Anti-gay Singapore is leaving LGBTI people without a home

Pink Dot 2018

LGBTI Singaporeans are struggling to find somewhere to live in one of the world’s most affluent cities.

Conservative attitudes centered on a heteronormative family can push LGBTI Singaporeans from their family home.

What’s more, while Singapore’s government provides generous subsidized housing, it effectively excludes LGBTI individuals.

Finally, without anti-discrimination legislation to protect individuals in the private renting market, LGBTI tenants are at risk from homophobic or transphobic landlords.

The situation facing LGBTI house-hunters reflects wider hostility towards the community in Singapore. Section 377A of Singapore’s colonial-era Penal Code criminalizes gay sex with up to two years in prison.

A recent survey found more than half of Singapore’s population support the draconian legislation.

Singapore lawyer Indulekshmi Rajeswari told the Property Guru that the government had often stated its intention to ‘encourage [heteronormative] families’.

Pushed out

According to Singapore’s 2016 National Youth Council Survey, 97 percent of unmarried young people live with their parents.

But, conservative families often push LGBTI youngsters out of the family home.

A local Facebook page of queer confessions receives many messages from LGBTI youngsters ejected from their homes.

Most, with nowhere to stay, end up crashing with friends.

Singaporean resident Kyle Malinda-White (Photo: Provided)

Singaporean resident Kyle Malinda-White (Photo: Provided)

Government housing

Singapore currently has the world’s second highest rate of home ownership. This is because of a generous government housing program.

The government allows young married heterosexual couples to apply for grants at the age of 21. But, the policy excludes LGBTI residents, according to Rajeswari.

‘Only those in a recognized family unit—primarily married heterosexual couples—are normally allowed to buy a HDB [government-assisted] apartment’ the expert said.

LGBTI individuals — even couples — are only eligible for single person schemes at the age of 35.

‘It has always been harder for LGBTI people’ Singaporean Kyle Malinda-White told Gay Star News. ‘Gay couples cannot apply for public housing’.

‘Renting is the only way out for now’ he said, who founded an app, Prout, to get LGBTI people socializing in the city-state.

But, Singapore has no anti-discrimination legislation to protect LGBTI people.

Transgender Deveshwar Sham, who’s identification documents did not match his gender while he was transitioning, told Property Guru he had difficulty renting.

‘They don’t discriminate in front of us, or publicly, but they’ll say they already have a tenant,’ he told the website.

Author: Rik Glauert

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Virginia LGBTI rights group launch employment equality awareness campaign

Equality Virginia

An LGBTI rights group in Virginia has launched a new awareness campaign about the discrimination sexual minorities experience in the state.

Equality Virginia’s month-long campaign will erect billboards throughout the state.

The billboards will read: ‘Someone you know is gay . . . They can be fired for who they are.’

This is a reference to the fact that it’s legal in Virginia to fire someone because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

‘It is still legal to discriminate against people simply because they’re gay or transgender’

The campaign is designed to combat the lack of protections for LGBTI people in the state.

There is no anti-discrimination legislation protecting LGBTI people in employment or housing in Virginia, the Washington Blade reports.

Past moves to introduce anti-discrimination bills have received bipartisan support in the state’s Senate.

However, none of the bills have made it past the House of Delegates, as Republican leadership has resisted calls to hold a vote.

‘Many people are surprised to learn that it is still legal under our state’s laws to fire a hardworking employee, deny them an apartment, and otherwise discriminate against people simply because they’re gay or transgender,’ said Equality Virginia’s Executive Director, James Parrish.

‘The goal of this year’s campaign is to increase understanding of the lack of legal protections these communities face and demonstrate the toll discrimination takes on LGBT Virginians and their families,’ Parrish added.

Inherent optimism

Equality Virginia is working in conjunction with fellow LGBTI rights group the Human Rights Campaign (HRC).

‘Over the past several elections, Equality Virginia and HRC have worked to elect pro-equality champions at every level of Virginia’s state government,’ HRC said in a statement on their website.

Despite the difficulties in the past, the group remains optimistic about the future outlook.

‘The good news is, support for equality has grown by leaps and bounds and people from all walks of life have come to understand that we all have LGBT loved ones, coworkers, and friends,’ Parrish concluded.

Despite the poor record of LGBTI anti-discrimination laws, the state made history in November 2017, when trans woman Danica Roem was elected to the House of Delegates District 13 seat.

Roem’s victory was the first time in US history a trans woman had been elected to state office.

Author: Calum Stuart

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Canada issues warning to LGBTI people thinking of travelling to the Bahamas

The Canadian government has issued a warning to LGBTI travelers who are considering visiting the Bahamas.

The warning states that LGBTI tourists should be wary of the anti-LGBTI sentiments in the Carribean nation.

The warning states that ‘LGBTQ2 travelers should carefully consider the risks of traveling to The Bahamas [where] homosexual­ity is not widely accepted’.

‘A reasonable advisory to LGBTQ Canadians’

Erin Greene and Alexus D’Marco, two Bahamian LGBTI rights activists, spoke out in support of the Canadian government’s warning to LGBTI people considering visiting the Bahamas.

‘As an advocate on the ground, I think it’s fair warning, I think considering travel culture generally, I am not concerned that Canada would have issued this advisory,” Greene told local newspaper, Tribune242.

‘[Generally] I think it is a sound, a reasonable advisory to LGBTQ Canadians. I am not offended or concerned that Canada has decided to issue this advisory,’ she added.

‘We should acknowledge that LGBT people do exist in The Bahamas that they have been stigmatized and discriminated against. They’ve been used in voluntary attacks even through political statements,’ D’Marco said.

‘There is no trust when it comes to the police. That’s another reason why they don’t trust the police because when they go to the police station, they are in a same-sex relationship and the police says to them “well if you weren’t like this wouldn’t have happened to you, sit over there,” and they make them sit there for hours and no reports are filed nothing like that so there is no trust,’ D’Marco added.

Widespread homophobia

Homosexuality is not banned in the Bahamas, as is the case in other Commonwealth countries.

However, conservative religious groups, which teach that homosexuality is decadent and sinful, are highly influential in the Christian-majority country.

As a result, many of the Bahamas’ politicians have been unwilling to supporting pro-LGBTI legislation and often turn a blind eye to the widespread homophobia.

In the past, there have been several high-profile instances of discrimination and harassment of both LGBTI citizens and tourists in the Caribbean state.

In 2017, a gay American tourist was badly beaten in a homophobic attack at a carnival.

Adrian Brown suffered lacerations to his head after being hit with a bottle and a rock by two assailants in an unprovoked attack. The men also verbally abused Brown with homophobic insults.

But in recent years, there have been moves make the Bahamas more LGBTI-friendly, including from the business sector.

In 2016, The Caribbean Tourism Organization UK hosted a seminar discussing how businesses could reach the LGBTI tourism market throughout the Caribbean.

Author: Calum Stuart

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