Exactly half of the 800 young people asked found homosexuality acceptable, according to a survey of young people aged 15-29. Conducted by students from Singapore Polytechnic's School of Business over two months, 42 per cent of the respondents who found homosexuality unacceptable although no further details are available.
Giving their views on various aspects of life, 45 per cent of the respondents disapproved of premarital sex while 46 per cent found it acceptable. More than half of respondents survey said that they would migrate overseas if they had the option.
Lecturer Kwa Lay Ping, who oversaw the survey, was quoted in Today newspaper attributing the youths' liberal views to the use of the Internet.
"They're more liberal in their outlook and more accepting of alternative lifestyles, such as homosexuality, and sex before marriage."
"As they go on the Internet, they're a lot more exposed to more liberal programmes about alternative lifestyles, than youths were in the days before the Internet," said Ms Kwa.
A youth said in a television interview, "To youths, it's common knowledge that homosexuals exist in Singapore. In fact, if you ask any youth, he'll say that he knows at least one homosexual friend."
An earlier survey conducted by the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports in 2001 however found that 71 per cent of the young people surveyed found homosexuality unacceptable.
Another survey conducted the same year by the government over a cross section of Singaporeans found that 29 per cent of Singaporeans under 30 years of age found homosexuality acceptable.
Alex Au of gay advocacy group People Like Us said of the recent findings: "This finding isn't coming out of the blue though radio and newspaper reports seem to make it so. It is part of a trend of increasing acceptance."
Referring to the Social Attitudes Survey in 2001 (SAS2001) conducted by the government, he told Fridae in an email: "The most authoritative evidence was the Social Attitudes Survey in 2001 (SAS2001), conducted by the government over a cross section of Singaporeans which found that 29 per cent of Singaporeans under 30 years of age found homosexuality acceptable. That was six years ago. That it has further increased shouldn't be any surprise."
Gay youths Fridae spoke to feel optimistic about the survey findings and for more youths to come out for their emotional well-being.
Zee, the 20-year-old editor of gay youth web site PLUME (plume.sg) told Fridae: "I'm inclined to think that this figure is slightly higher than 50 per cent. Just because the remaining 42 per cent surveyed said it was not acceptable doesn't mean all of them will reject gay people outright or think of it as 'wrong'."
"The results show that there is a larger acceptance of gay people; reflective of my personal experience. There are no hate crimes or outright discrimination though many straight guys in this age group use 'gay' to crack misogynistic and insensitive jokes. But when it comes to the real crunch, they're not actually homophobic; they don't condemn us to hell."
Nick of Queercast (www.queercast.blogspot.com) said: "It is encouraging that half of them find homosexuality acceptable. I think this is a good sign that with constant awareness we can change the mindsets of the youth to work towards a better future for us all."
Zee added: "I encourage tertiary students to come out more for their emotional well-being than as a political act. Closets are very cramped places and mothballs are not very fun to play with. Politically speaking, schools are a microcosm of society and the young will inherit the country in future, if our peers weave through campus life exposed to other gay students, they'll see living examples and eventually get used to it. Besides needing a support network, one of the biggest challenges to coming out, is always yourself. Fear, needing approval and validation is a big barrier to overcome; but once you do, you'll be invincible."