Test 2

Please select your preferred language.





Remember Me

New to Fridae?

Fridae Mobile


More About Us

26 Aug 2013

Singapore's gay community slams use of the term “gay lifestyle” in national survey

When contacted by Fridae, one of the survey's researchers concedes that on hindsight, the survey could have used a more "nuanced and calibrated" term.

In the latest survey commissioned by the government, some 26% of 4,000 Singaporeans polled said they were accepting of “gay lifestyles” while 27% were neutral and 47% disagreed with the statement. The results further showed that more educated and younger Singaporeans were comparatively more accepting.

The issue of same-sex marriage garnered less support with 21% being supportive, 24% neutral and 55% disagreeing. The two questions were asked as part of the Our Singapore Conversation Survey, a government-led project to "get a snapshot of Singaporeans’ priorities, values and preferences".

Figure 14: Preference between rejecting vs accepting gay lifestyles.
Survey question: "I would prefer that society rejects gay lifestyles" vs
"I would prefer that society accepts gay lifestyles"

Figure 15: Preference between rejecting vs accepting same-sex marriage.
Survey question: 
"I would prefer that society rejects same-sex marriages" vs
"I would prefer that society accepts same-sex marriages"

While the figures don’t come as a surprise, members of Singapore’s LGBT community called into question the use of the “gay lifestyles” used in the survey.

Media commentator Kirsten Han who was clearly outraged by the use of the term wrote on her blog: “What, exactly, is the 'gay lifestyle'? Do we honestly believe such a thing exists? The idea of the ‘gay lifestyle’ is nothing but a huge, steaming plate of bullshit served up by people who have made little-to-no effort to understand those different from them. And we need to get rid of this rubbish NOW.” She added: "When we stop thinking of it as a ‘gay lifestyle’ and start seeing it for what it is — i.e. people who are being judged and discriminated against based on who they love — then we have a better shot at relating to one another, understanding one another and accepting one another."

Nei, who wrote a column for Sayoni, a queer women’s advocacy group, said: “'Gay lifestyle' implies choice and ease of change. No matter how important a role nature or nurture play in being gay, it's not something we just stop being. Being queer is an important part of who we are and is closely tied to crucial, positive human feelings such as love and affection as well as sex. Referring to it as a lifestyle implicitly rejects queer people, and if the survey said this, I’d like to know where the researchers were coming from in asking the question.”

When Fridae contacted Senior Research Fellow Leong Chan Hoong – one of the survey's researchers from the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) – and explained the controversial phrase, he conceded that on hindsight, the survey could have used a more "nuanced and calibrated" term.

He clarified that the survey did not eleborate on the contentious term and explained that the questions throughout the survey were designed to allow respondents to interpret the question "using a lens they are normally used to."

Dr Leong further highlighted that the “landscape (with regard to gay acceptance) is evolving” and that just over one in two Singaporeans polled are accepting or at least indifferent to the issue.

The US-based gay media watchdog GLAAD advises journalists to avoid using lifestyle" or "homosexual lifestyle" as it could be offensive. “There is no single lesbian, gay or bisexual lifestyle. Lesbians, gay men and bisexuals are diverse in the ways they lead their lives. The phrase "gay lifestyle" is used to denigrate lesbians and gay men, suggesting that their orientation is a choice and therefore can and should be "cured".

Pink Dot Singapore, a movement that supports LGBT acceptance, says it rejects the use of the term “gay lifestyle” in the media and in academic research.

“A person’s sexual identity cannot be described as merely a lifestyle because it reduces him or her down to one shallow facet of their identity. The term also does not allow for the diversity that exists between lesbian, gay and bisexual individuals nor the similarities between LGBT and straight communities. There is no such thing as a ‘gay lifestyle’ because there is no one sameness that permeates through all LGBT people in Singapore or across the world,” Pink Dot said in a statement to Fridae. It added, “When used in research, it creates a bias because it predetermines for unfamiliar interviewees that sexuality is a choice rather than an innate characteristic.”

The survey was conducted by the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) as part of the Our Singapore Conversation, a government-led initiative, from December 2012 to January 2013. According to IPS – a think-tank within the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore – the sample is demographically representative of the national population in terms of age, gender and ethnicity.


Reader's Comments

1. 2013-08-26 23:32  
The survey should have simply asked:
"I am an intelligent, educated person who accepts that society and humans, by nature, are diverse - inclusive of sexuality and gender".
"I am an ignorant person who lives in fear of diversity and chooses to exclude, discriminate and vilify those who do not affirm my fragile self-identity".

2. 2013-08-27 03:42  
I like your way of thinking Drewbluesyd!
3. 2013-08-27 04:15  
two possible answers:

A. I want Singapore to become civilized and tolerant country


Comment edited on 2013-08-27 04:16:34
4. 2013-08-27 07:54  
While you're at it, ditch the pointless term "gay community", which annoys the hell out of me whenever I hear it! (So, there's a Straight community, is there?) Why? Because it's such a limited - and limiting - phrase that Immediately rejects and isolates those who don't fit into the neat, rigid categories and labels that get bandied about (in a generally narrow way of thinking by many gay people, too).

Whatever a 'gay community' is, I'm absolutely Not a part of it. I Am, however, a part of The Community, and interested in what happens to people regardless of their sexuality or identification. I'm passionate about gay rights, and most of my friends are gaysians - but then, these are only facets of who I am, which is a Citizen, first, and then a member of The Community, second. But part of some niche gang? Pfffft. Please...

Rant over, and back on topic - yes, the survey phrase could, and should, have been more nuanced. But, as devil's advocate, I've seen many gay groups and people over the years talk about "gay lifestyle" this and that. It's clumsy rhetoric, but what's good for the goose...
5. 2013-08-27 12:22  
I think, if we dog deeper, I won't be surprised if Leong Chan Hoong might turn out to be related to out of the fundie churches. Waht kind of an academic is he to make a fundamental (pun intended) mistake like that? Would you not have defined and clarified the term before even using it in a research survey no less.

What in the first place is a gay lifestyle? A life filled with love, and family and companionship. Where two people eat together and make memories and share a life? Is that what they mean by gay lifestyle?
6. 2013-08-27 12:37  
Putting 'reject' before 'accept' in a survey does not affect its results at all, does it?
7. 2013-08-27 13:03  
I'm willing to give Leong Chan Hoong the benefit of doubt and think of him as a straight, queer-unconscious person. More likely, the IPS didn't have a single gay or lesbian member in its team when it designed the questionnaire. There are only so many gay and lesbian academics in SG, and I'm fairly certain none work at the IPS.
8. 2013-08-27 14:23  
The Institute of Policy Studies is a Singapore government think-tank that comes out with the propaganda swill that the government wants it to. It's exactly the same swill that comes out of the government controlled free-to-air broadcasting tv and radio stations as well as the garbage that one reads in the government-published newspapers. No wonder Singapore's ranked 149 on the world's freedom of the press index, one place above North Korea and a few slots down from even Ethiopia and Burma. Shame on us. Shame on anyone who believes the crap that comes out of IPS.
9. 2013-08-27 17:48  
Thanks drewblueSYD, you put it very well! And I would also endorse the comments about the nonsense of the term "gay lifestyle' - it's totally meaningless. Especially in societies where being gay is no longer an issue.
In NZ we currently have an openly gay man running for leadership of one of our biggest parliamentary parties. A possible future prime minister. There's no talk about his "gay lifestyle" - if fact everyone is saying is just not an issue.
Once again Singapore (a place I love visiting) shoots itself in the foot over social issues.
10. 2013-08-27 19:22  
Thanks pc2018 :)

Thanks nzbear4u :)
11. 2013-08-28 00:51  
Maybe it's about making lemonade out of lemons. I hope the Glbt community will use that as golden opportunity to write to the papers n make it an educational article to the rest of the community?
Comment #12 was deleted by its author on 2013-08-28 00:52
13. 2013-08-31 21:29  
it is not about discrimination to gays but to many people include aspects of straight. Gay just getting the first turn
after completion gay discrimination, religion will make /rise another cases.
You need to know the basic politic of religion
14. 2013-09-02 23:52  
So the good news is that, even with a survey with a loaded question designed to elicit a negative response, over 50% either accept or are indifferent to gay people having gay relationships. This suggests there is certainly no mandate to retain 377A, and Singaore is not as "conservative" as some would have us believe.

Please log in to use this feature.

Select News Edition

Featured Profiles

Now ALL members can view unlimited profiles!


View this page in a different language:

Like Us on Facebook


 ILGA Asia - Fridae partner for LGBT rights in Asia IGLHRC - Fridae Partner for LGBT rights in Asia