LGBT+ Business Climate Score

Out Leadership’s snapshot of the current state of affairs for LGBT+ people, through the lens of international business. The Business Climate Score score is out of ten possible points, and is based on ten independently verifiable indicators of the legal, cultural and business context for LGBT+ people.

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1.
Are consensual homosexual acts between adults legal?
0.5
Between two women
2.
Are marriage or civil unions for same-sex couples available?
0
No relationship recognition
3.
Is being LGBT+ punishable by death?
1
No
4.
Are sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination in employment prohibited?
0
No
5.
Can transgender people legally change their gender markers?
0.5
Only available to some, with discriminatory requirements
6.
Is sex reassignment surgery at birth for intersex children prohibited?
0
No
7.
Are sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination in the provision of goods and services prohibited?
0
No
8.
Is there a U.S. State Department warning against travel for LGBT+ individuals?
0.5
No official warning, but restrictions and potential difficulties detailed
9.
Do companies sponsor Pride?
1
Domestic companies may support Pink Dot SG
10.
Are there laws prohibiting freedom for assembly or speech for LGBT+ people (i.e. “anti-propaganda laws”, media gags, etc)?
0.5
No, but there are significant restrictions.
Talking Points
  • The criminalization of same-sex intimacy between men creates specific concerns for gay men and a hostile environment for LGBT+ people generally. This causes serious obstacles in attracting top talent and for global talent mobility.
  • This discrimination and negative culture impacts our firm’s ability to attract and retain top talent in Singapore – not just LGBT+ people.
  • I’m aware that in 2007 the Prime Minister said that Singapore’s law criminalizing intimacy between men wouldn’t be proactively enforced, but its continued existence, and a lack of legal protections against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, creates workplace issues and drives harassment.
  • I want my employees to achieve their full potential in the workplace and hence increase productivity – which we know is what you also want in positioning Singapore as the hub for [specific industry]. That can only happen when all employees feel safe and protected, both in and out of work.
Talking Points
Impact of LGBT Discrimination on Business and Talent
  • 1
    NO RISK
  • 2
    LOW RISK
  • 3
    MODERATE RISK
  • 4
    NOTABLE RISK
  • 5
    HIGH RISK
BRAND RISK
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    NOTABLE RISK
There is notable brand risk for corporations doing business in Singapore. Supporting the LGBT+ community in Singapore can potentially provoke negative reactions from Singaporean politicians.
CLIENT RISK
  • 2
    LOW RISK
Though there is a strong need for legal reform, at the minimum for anti-discrimination and protection mechanisms to be introduced for LGBT+ people, Singapore has refrained from actively persecuting LGBT+ people. Accordingly, there is a low probability that an international firm could lose LGBT+ clients for doing business in Singapore.
TALENT RISK
  • 3
    MODERATE RISK
Singapore’s implementation of Section 377A has created confusion as to whether businesses can offer spousal benefits to LGBT+ employees. Some companies operate under the impression that same-sex spouses aren’t recognized by the Singaporean government, cannot obtain spousal visas, and are forced to rely on short term travel visas when visiting the country. This makes it very difficult for LGBT+ partners to relocate to Singapore on a long-term basis if only one partner has a work visa from the Singaporean government. However, some employers do arrange for spousal visas for same-sex couples.
MARKETING RISK
  • 4
    NOTABLE RISK
The LGBT+ marketplace remains largely untapped in Singapore, despite the country’s significant LGBT+ population and community. Unfortunately, the Singaporean government’s seemingly negative stance towards the LGBT+ community creates substantial obstacles for accessing this powerful market.
Socio-cultural Environment of LGBT People:

Status of LGBT+ Organizing and Community

  • — Since 2009, an annual LGBT+ gathering called Pink Dot Singapore has been approved by the state. The event brings together the country’s leading LGBT+ activists; at its peak in 2015, more than 28,000 people attended.
  • — The LGBT+ community also celebrates pride month in August through the IndigNation festival. In 2018, the theme was “Imagining Queer Futures.”
  • — Over 30 other local LGBT+ organizations and student groups also operate in the country, though the Registrar of Societies has refused to register them officially, arguing that “it is contrary to the public interest to grant legitimacy to the promotion of homosexual activities or viewpoints. The Societies Act awards discretion for the Registrar to refuse a registration solely on the Registrar’s satisfaction that registration would be “contrary to the national interest.”
  • — Socio-cultural emphasis is rarely placed on the transgender community. Most LGBT+ advocacy and visibility in Singapore focuses on gay and lesbian experiences.

Cultural Views of the LGBT+ Community

  • — Singapore has a conservative cultural approach when it comes to sexual orientation and gender identity. Family values and parental expectations are strong, and conformity and traditional family models are often expected.
  • — In 2018, the Singapore consultancy firm Achieve Group published a study investigating Singaporean business attitudes toward LGBT+ talent in the workplace. Over 85% of companies polled stated that an LGBT employee’s openness about his/her orientation would not hurt that individual’s chances of promotion within the organization. Nearly three-quarters of respondents stated that their staff would not have trouble accepting and working with an openly gay colleague.
  • — Though nearly 80% of Singaporeans don’t support gay rights, surveys show that public opinion is slowly shifting.
Local Leaders Advocating for LGBT Equality

There are many openly LGBT+ activists and experts in Singapore. Out Leadership recommends:

Lynette Chua Author, Mobilizing Gay Singapore: Rights and Resistance in an Authoritarian State Eileena

Lee Co-Founder, Pelangi Pride Centre

Charmaine Tan, Co-Founder, Pelangi Pride Centre

Alan Seah, Steering Committee Member, Pink Dot SG

Paerin Choa Steering Committee Member, Pink Dot SG

Yangfa Leow Executive Director of Oogachaga and Author, I Will Survive