Sayoni submitted its shadow CEDAW report to the 49th Session on 20 June 2011 (download the PDF version here)
1. Executive Summary
Growing up, girls who are perceived to be queer in Singapore face isolation or bullying at school and pressure to conform to stereotypical gender roles and expression. Information about safe sex for queer persons is excluded from sex education curricula.
Queer adolescents and teenagers, like those in other countries, are at a higher risk of depression and suicide because of social stigma and rejection. Discrimination that they experience is further perpetuated by censorship in mainstream media, resulting in a negative portrayal of their identity or orientation.
At the workplace, almost all queer women report perceiving varying degrees of discrimination. Many resort to hiding their gender identity/ sexual orientation in order to protect themselves against discrimination, harassment and blackmail. If they do experience discrimination by their company, colleagues or supervisors, there is no legal recourse. They are unable to access spousal and maternity employment benefits; and income tax benefits. Trans-women10Trans-women are also known as MTF or male-to-female. They are people assigned as male at birth but who identify as female/feminine and may or may not go through a physical transition process to become female. face especially great challenges in obtaining executive or professional positions.
Queer women have unequal access to healthcare and medical rights in a healthcare system which presumes heterosexuality in its policies and services.
Women in committed same-sex relationships cannot legally marry. This excludes them from access to social services and support for marriage and families, and importantly, corresponding rights and benefits in public housing, healthcare, employment, immigration, domestic violence, travel, taxation, parenting, separation, death and inheritance.
Our report therefore concludes that discrimination against queer women in Singapore is currently prevalent, systemic and institutionalised in social, cultural, political and economic spheres, contravening articles of CEDAW, in particular but not limited to Articles 5, 10, 11, 12, 15 and 16, as documented in this report.