For over a decade, Out Leadership, the world’s first LGBTQ+ Equality Business, has advocated for repealing Singapore’s Section 377A and will continue to discourage the proposed constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.
Welcome, Singapore! This weekend, Singapore joined the global coalition of countries that are good for business when the Prime Minister, Lee Hsien Loong, announced that the government would finally repeal the country’s colonial-era law, Section 377A, criminalizing sex between men.
First and foremost, this long-awaited milestone is a reason to celebrate Singapore’s LGBTQ+ people, who at last can live openly and build lives out in the open. For many years, global businesses, CEOs, and nonprofits have also called this repeal.
From a global business perspective, this is historic. While many other major economies in the region have already abolished similar oppressive laws, until this weekend, Singapore remained one of 69 countries that still criminalized homosexuality. Because of this discrimination and its impact on talent mobility and business opportunity, Out Leadership has always challenged the World Bank’s recognition of Singapore as the world’s number one place for doing business. Equality is a moral and business imperative because open and diverse companies, countries, and economies achieve better business outcomes, which Out Leadership calls a Return On Equality™. Highly educated, top-tier talent wants to ensure their human rights are protected when they live and do business in Singapore or anywhere in the world.
Out Leadership, our member firms and their CEOs, as well as our non-profit partners, have long encouraged the Singaporean government to make changes in favor of LGBTQ+ equality, starting with smaller wins such as permitting internal LGBTQ+ programming at our member firms that paved the way to this historic repeal. Out Leadership is grateful for the tireless work of our partner, Pink Dot, a movement designed to foster understanding for LGBTQ+ Singaporeans and to advocate for full equality through its annual family gathering. We are also grateful to the CEOs and Out Leadership member firms who have used their platforms as economic engines in Singapore, both publicly and privately, to make the case to the government that LGBTQ+ discrimination was fundamentally bad for their business and talent.
To compete globally in today’s world, countries must protect LGBTQ+ rights and cannot let outdated social or religious discrimination impede business and talent opportunities. With its new acceptance of LGBTQ+ rights, Singapore further strengthens its standing beside its rival Hong Kong, who, over six years ago, thanks to the business community and Out Leadership’s partner Community Business, secured same-sex spousal visas and other LGBTQ+ protections.
Despite this historic win in repealing 377A, however, Singapore’s Prime Minister seeks to appease conservative factions by proposing a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, which Out Leadership strongly advocates against. Each of the 32 countries worldwide that has legalized marriage equality has seen economic, cultural, and societal benefits—without the false choice of religious freedom or civil rights. We hope Singapore strongly considers such facts, case studies, and research before codifying such a law. In a globalized economy, the business case for equality only continues to grow, opening doors for further advancements toward equality.
Out Leadership congratulates Singapore on this historic milestone of progress and looks forward to supporting more steps towards making the country an even more welcoming and inclusive place to do business.
About OUT LEADERSHIP
Out Leadership is the world’s first and only LGBTQ+ corporation whose sole product is equality. With 98 member companies (including Amazon, American Express, Bloomberg, Citi, Coca-Cola, Comcast, Goldman Sachs, HSBC, IBM, Microsoft, Nike, and Walmart), Out Leadership harnesses the power of business to drive equality by connecting LGBTQ+ leaders across the globe and advocating for inclusion at every level: from entry-level to the executive to CEO. As a Certified B Corp, Out Leadership also partners with 56 non-profits (including GLAAD, Freedom for All Americans, Lambda Legal, Transgender Law Center, and many other organizations) and annually donate over 20% of its net profit to global LGBTQ+ nonprofits.
Out Leadership has always focused on the Return on Equality™ businesses receive from valuing both their LGBTQ+ talent and the market of LGBTQ+ and ally consumers. We are thrilled by the opportunity to expand this expertise into the mainstream ESG conversation.
By Todd Sears, Founder & CEO, Out Leadership