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Screen capture of the survey[]

REACHLGBTQSurvey220322b.jpg


Editable text of the survey[]

REACH - LGBTQ Survey

10 mins estimated time to complete

Instructions

Welcome! REACH is the national feedback and engagement unit under the Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI). In response to questions raised during the Ministry of Home Affairs’ Committee of Supply debate, Minister for Law and Home Affairs K Shanmugam said that “the government is considering the ‘best way forward’ on Section 377A, which criminalises gay sex, and in doing so will respect different viewpoint and consider them carefully.”

We wish to hear your thoughts about the LGBT+ community in Singapore. This survey is open to everyone regardless of your sexual orientation and/or gender identity. Your feedback will be shared with relevant agencies and could be used within the Government for policy updates and changes.

For more information on REACH, please visit www.reach.gov.sg or follow us on our social media platforms: Facebook: REACHSingapore / Instagram: @reachsg /TikTok: @reachsingapore

Demographic

1. Gender

Male

Female

Others

If others, please specify.

2. Nationality

Singaporean

Permanent Resident

Foreigner

3. I am...

Chinese

Malay

Indian

Others

If others, please specify.

4. Year of Birth

5. Occupation

Professionals, Managers, Executives

Associate Professionals and Technicians

Service and Sales (e.g. F&B, customer-facing, commission-based)

Clerical Support (e.g. general admin)

Blue Collar (e.g. machine operators, cleaners, labourers)

Self-employed

Homemaker

Student

Full-time National Service (NSF)

Unemployed

Retiree

Others

If others, please specify.

6. Current personal monthly income, before deducting CPF

Survey

7. I feel that the LGBT+ Community is accepted in Singapore.

Strongly Agree

Agree

Neutral

Disagree

Strongly Disagree

8. Why or why not?

9. I am supportive of the LGBT+ community and their causes.

Strongly Agree

Agree

Neutral

Disagree

Strongly Disagree

10. Why or why not?

11. I have taken part in activities and causes to show support for the LGBT+ community.

NO

YES

12. Are you or do you know someone who identifies as an LGBT+ person?

I am an LGBT+ person

I know someone who is an LGBT+ person

I do not know anyone who is an LGBT+ person

13. I am aware of what Section 377A of the Penal Code is.

I have heard about it and know what it is about

I have heard about it but am unsure what it is about

I have not heard about it and do not know what it is about

14. I think that Section 377A should be.

Repealed

Maintained

Modified

I am indifferent about it

15. Why?

16. I would like to sign up for future REACH activities, such as contests, events and Listening Points

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Chronology of events[]

Online publication[]

On Tuesday, 22 March 2022, the Government's feedback unit REACH published its first public poll soliciting sentiments regarding LGBT+ issues[1]. It was accessible for a record shortest period of just one day before it was abruptly closed without warning at noon, Wednesday, 23 March 2022, when it had drawn more than 30,000 responses, a figure far exceeding the usual number which ranged from several hundred to a couple of thousand for other surveys[2],[3],[4]. The media speculated that several groups had mobilised people to take part in the poll.

Feedback from the REACH poll "will be shared with relevant agencies and could be used within the Government for policy updates and changes", said the survey in its preamble, which also stated: "We wish to hear your thoughts about the LGBT+ community in Singapore. This survey is open to everyone regardless of your sexual orientation and/or gender identity." When asked if it was REACH's first public survey on attitudes towards the LGBT+ community and Section 377A, as well as why the survey was commissioned, a REACH spokesman said: "This survey is one of many that REACH pushes out frequently to Singaporeans to gather feedback on issues they are concerned with." In the survey, under the section that collected demographic data of the participants, the question on gender provided three options - male, female and others. There were also questions on whether participants felt that the LGBT+ community was accepted in Singapore, and if they were supportive of the LGBT+ community and its causes. The survey also asked for participants' opinions on whether Section 377A should be repealed, maintained, modified, or if they were indifferent to it.

After the survey closed, REACH said on the site that there had been "an overwhelming response that far exceeds the usual number of responses received in our e-Listening Points". An e-Listening Point is virtual feedback via online surveys, including through platforms such as WhatsApp, TikTok and Grab. The Government unit added that its Listening Points engaged more than 65,000 people in 2021. REACH chairman Tan Kiat How pointed out that a survey on home-based learning drew feedback from some 20,000 parents in three days.

Reaction to poll and abrupt closure[]

LGBT activist and semi-retired doctor Roy Tan felt that the survey was “one of the positive developments elicited by our achievement of the recent ‘unenforceable’ ruling by the Court of Appeal”[5]. Tan felt that the “Government’s realisation of the currently untenable situation is what may have spurred REACH to launch the survey to garner feedback from the public regarding whether the majority want to keep gay Singaporeans criminalised”. He speculated that “if the findings show that the public generally are conservative and do not want an erosion of the normative heterosexual paradigm, yet at the same time, feel that gay men should not be viewed as criminals in the eyes of the law, it would provide a solid reason backed up by statistics for the Government to repeal the law”. He added that the survey by REACH was “groundbreaking because it is the first major and large-scale Governmental initiative to gather feedback from the general public about attitudes towards the gay community” and even touches on questions regarding the law on the criminalisation of male homosexuality. Tan added that previous surveys were on a smaller scale, carried out by private or quasi-governmental organisations. However, he cautioned against using surveys to shape policies as it pits the majority against the minority, with the minority groups always at the losing end. Dr Tan said he was hopeful about the future, as “the younger generations are increasingly woke and have a greater sense of social fairness, so acceptance of the LGBT community is bound to increase as the years go by”. “This can only have a beneficial effect on the eventual attainment of equality in all aspects of life for the community as the Government has already signalled its willingness to institute legal reform based on evolving social attitudes,” he added.

After the survey closed suddenly, some people took to social media to express their unhappiness at missing the deadline to submit their responses[6],[7]. In a Facebook post, Pink Dot SG urged its followers on Wednesday, 23 March 2022 to submit their feedback and added that the “survey is expected to close before the end of the week”. It explained that “the survey is an opportunity for us to make our concerns known to people in power, even if they are imperfect tools in capturing the complexity and nuances of our lived experiences. Our contributions to this outreach can provide useful insights for our policymakers and help inform decisions that will impact all of us for years to come”. However, the group cautioned against seeing the survey “as a numbers game”, as the survey was “not an opportunity for different groups to flex their power, size, or popularity”. “We should not use this survey as a battleground to picket, or to make any sort of public statement,” it opined. The organisation added that it was divisive to treat Singapore’s society as comprising of “majorities and minorities”, and hoped to “start having real conversations about the lives we lead here in this country, and how we are impacted by legal and social discrimination at home, in schools, and in the workplace”. “Your stories matter. We urge you to seize this opportunity to be heard”, it exhorted.

Members of We Are Against Pinkdot in Singapore, a group opposing the causes espoused by the LGBTQ community, also shared the survey's weblink on Tuesday, urging others to make their perspectives heard. Some observers commented that one flaw with the survey was that it allowed an individual to submit multiple responses. Freelance journalist Kirsten Han wrote on Twitter on Tuesday, 22 March 2022 that she expected “conservative Christian circles” to take part in the survey "en masse". “The next thing you know, the results are used by the Government to justify policy,” she said, adding that this was the only reason why she was responding to the survey. Other criticisms seen online included the way some questions in the survey were asked. One Twitter user, who went by the handle @wwei11, said that she was stumped by the way the questions were phrased. One example was: "I feel that the LGBT+ Community is accepted in Singapore." To this, @wwei11 said: “Is accepted vs should be accepted are two very different things. I'm not sure what they are asking?” Facebook user Edric Sng was also critical of the survey, which he felt “falls short on many levels”. These include allowing anonymous participants, not having a representative cross-section of the population and the phrasing of the questions, which will “lead to unclear conclusions”. “In the end, there is just one clear question… on (whether) Section 377A should be maintained, repealed or in some way modified,” he wrote. “But given the methodical issues, even that result will not be credible. Which does not help the conversation at all, and in fact only escalates the already shredded tensions. In which case — why bother?” he continued.

Comments on social media regarding the survey were mostly supportive of the LGBTQ+ community. One Ivan H M Wong posted, “Done. Submitted. But doubt things will change for the better”, and Suze Shon Ng commented that “Love is love”. “We are laughing stock if still let this old century law exist. Not a nanny state still, are we?” she asked. There were some dissenting views as well. In his short and sharp retort, Jonus Jun wrote, “Nothing to discuss, no room for pink dot here in Singapore.”

MCI's response to parliamentary question on REACH LGBTQ survey[]

MPs Alex Yam and Zhulkarnain Rahim.

During the parliamentary sitting on 9 May 2022, two Members of Parliament (MP) submitted the following questions to the Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI) regarding the REACH survey[8]:

  • Alex Yam Ziming: To ask the Minister for Communications and Information with regard to the recent REACH survey on attitudes towards LGBTQ (a) what were the reasons for the unusually high volume of responses in a short timeframe; (b) whether the survey is restricted to only Singaporeans and permanent residents; and (c) whether the Ministry considers the survey results to be representative of attitudes towards LGBTQ due to concerns over the mobilisation of respondents by various groups.
  • Zhulkarnain Abdul Rahim: To ask the Minister for Communications and Information with regard to the recent REACH survey on attitudes towards LGBTQ (a) what are the considerations behind how the survey questions are structured; and (b) what is the usual process and typical timelines considered before the issuance of any surveys by REACH.


Answer:

Screen capture of MCI's response to the parliamentary questions on the REACH LGBTQ survey.

1. REACH gathers feedback via multiple channels and from different segments of the community, so that all voices can be heard. Views collected by REACH are shared with relevant government agencies.

2. The channels employed by REACH include email, social media platforms, WhatsApp chatgroups and dialogues. One modality used by REACH is Listening Points (or LPs) – typically conducted in person or since the start of the pandemic, via online surveys. They solicit views from specific groups with questions designed accordingly. The findings from targeted LPs are therefore not taken as representative of the entire population. For more holistic understanding, they are complemented by other sources of feedback.

3. Members Mr Alex Yam and Mr Zhulkharnain referred to a Listening Point to solicit views from the LGBTQ+ community. Similar LPs have been conducted to hear views from communities such as rental flat dwellers, pre-release offenders, and gig economy workers. We have also previously partnered other communities including religious organisations, women and youth groups, to seek feedback on particular issues from their respective constituents.

4. Consistent with the approach taken for such targeted LPs, the LGBTQ+ LP was conducted online and the link was disseminated through LGBTQ+ groups. However, unlike in previous online LPs, the link was circulated beyond the intended audience, which led to a large number of responses within a short timeframe. REACH received more than 36,000 responses within a day or so for this LP; for comparison, other LPs that REACH conduct typically gather about 200 to 700 responses. As the LP platform is open to all, respondents can be from any nationality. But the majority of the feedback came from citizens and permanent residents, whose views are naturally the main focus for REACH and government agencies. Surveys based on representative samples that the Government commissions are of course restricted to the resident population.

5. REACH has received feedback about this LP, and acknowledges that it should be more careful when conducting LPs on issues where people hold sharply opposed and passionate views. REACH will learn from this experience to better engage Singaporeans on contentious topics in the future.

See also[]

References[]

Acknowledgements[]

This article was archived by Roy Tan.

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