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LGBTQI News Roundup – 26 August 2022

Singapore will decriminalise sex between men, Prime Minister says

Singapore will decriminalise sex between men but has no plans to change the legal definition of marriage as being between a man and a woman, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on Sunday.  Lee said Singaporean society, especially young people in the city-state, are becoming more accepting of gay people.

“I believe this is the right thing to do, and something that most Singaporeans will now accept,” he said in his annual national day rally speech, adding that the government would repeal Section 377A of the penal code, a colonial-era law that criminalises sex between men. It was unclear when exactly the law would be repealed.

Singapore becomes the latest Asian country to move closer to ending discrimination against members of the LGBTQ community. In 2018, India’s highest court also scrapped a colonial-era ban on gay sex, while Thailand has recently edged closer to legalising same-sex unions. In Singapore, under Section 377A, offenders can be jailed for up to two years under the law, but it is not currently actively enforced. There have been no known convictions for sex between consenting adult males for decades and the law does not include sex between women or other genders.



Vietnam declares being LGBTQ is ‘not an illness’


Being gay, bisexual or transgender should not be considered an illness and cannot be treated, the Vietnam government has announced in “a huge paradigm shift” in LGBTQ+ rights in the country. The Ministry of Health said medical professionals should treat LGBTQ+ people with respect and ensure they are not discriminated against.

In an announcement sent to provincial and municipal health departments earlier this month, and posted on the government website, the ministry said being LGBTQ+ “is entirely not an illness” so it “cannot be ‘cured’ nor need[s] to be ‘cured’ and cannot be converted in any way”.  

It said that medics should not “interfere nor force treatment” on LGBTQ+ patients. If any support is needed, “it must be in the form of psychological assistance and performed only by those who have the knowledge of sexual identity”, said the ministry.

The breakthrough follow years of campaigning by LGBTQ+ rights groups. In November, the Leave with Pride campaign from the Institute for Studies of Society, Economy, and Environment (iSEE) petitioned the World Health Organization in Vietnam to affirm that being gay is not a disease. In a video, the iSEE posed the question: If queerness is a disease, shouldn’t LGBT+ Vietnamese be able to get sick leave?  In April, the WHO’s representative in Vietnam, Kidong Park, issued a statement confirming that any attempt to change the sexual orientation of LGBTQ+ people “lacks medical basis and is unacceptable”.



Harry Styles opens up about his sexuality and addresses queerbaiting accusations

Pop superstar Harry Styles is peeling back the curtain on his personal life, addressing accusations of queerbaiting, his sexuality and his romantic relationship with Olivia Wilde in a new interview with Rolling Stone. Much has changed for Styles since his “X-Factor” days catapulted him to international stardom with the formation of One Direction, and then onto his solo career debut in 2017.

Styles, now touring for his third solo album, “Harry’s House,” opened up about the intense scrutiny into his private life, saying in his cover story interview with Rolling Stone published Monday: “I’ve never talked about my life away from work publicly and found that it’s benefited me positively.”  “There’s always going to be a version of a narrative, and I think I just decided I wasn’t going to spend the time trying to correct it or redirect it in some way,” he explained. Styles, known for his gender-fluid fashion emulating icons David Bowie and Mick Jagger before him, has fielded harsh criticism of queerbaiting — when one benefits from appearing as queer without claiming the community explicitly. 

Unprompted, Styles brushed off comments regarding his sexual identity.  “Sometimes people say, ‘You’ve only publicly been with women,’ and I don’t think I’ve publicly been with anyone. If someone takes a picture of you with someone, it doesn’t mean you’re choosing to have a public relationship or something,” he said.

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