This week, news emerged that a teacher had been extorted of over $200,000 in cash and valuables because he was gay. Said teacher had been afraid of being outed to his school and MOE, thus had given in to the blackmail for six months before making a police report.
For all the people who say that it does not matter than 377A remains on the books, here is the reason why it DOES matter.
As long as gay men can be considered criminals, the LGBTQ community continues to suffer from discrimination. Whether it be a civil servant or someone in the private sector, the possibility of being outed and discriminated against is very real.
I find it horrifying that the perpetrator was a married man who took advantage of the victim. In most cases, it would have been the married man who would live in fear of being exposed of having an affair. Instead, the tables were turned and the “third party” was the one who was being blackmailed. It is a case that has made me wonder how many other people have been victims and kept quiet out of fear.
The truth is, there are many LGBTQ people in all sorts of positions and careers, whether in the public or private sector. Some of us are more “out” than others. There are of course certain industries that frown upon being “out”. Teaching being one of the prime examples. Yet, I know of a number of gay and lesbian people who are teachers. I even know of a teacher who is a same-sex parent. I salute my friends who continue to serve the country by educating our young minds, even while being forced to keep their partners and families under wraps.
I also applaud the victim in this case for it must not have been easy to go to the police. In his time of desperation, I applaud his courage to make a police report instead of being driven to something more serious such as suicide.
Many people think that the LGBTQ community should remain silent and not fight for our rights. After all, they think we are doing “okay” and have no need for the same rights as everyone else. As long as we keep it a secret, society will let us be. How long more are we expected to keep our lives, loved ones and families as secrets? How long more are we expected to be bullied?
LGBTQ people deserve the same rights and benefits as straight people. We should be able to keep our jobs, whether in the private or public sector, regardless of who we go to bed with. We should be able to form family units, buy a HDB flat and raise our children together. We should be able to live without fear of being shunned by society. Being a LGBTQ person should not automatically be considered a reason to have a bad reputation.
I hope this case highlights to the Government that regardless of how they have repeatedly stated that ” “The Government does not discriminate against persons seeking a job in the civil service on the basis of their sexual orientation.” Their belief is absolutely false. IF they insist this to be true, dear MOE, please issue a statement to confirm that any teachers who come out of the closet will NOT be fired or given “warnings”.
As long as MOE stays silent on this case, it is clear proof that the Government continues to encourage the discrimination of LGBTQ persons in Singapore.