SINGAPORE -A 47-year-old man who harassed staff at an eatery and threw a rainbow flag at them has been given a two-year conditional warning by the police.
In a written reply to Non-Constituency MP Leong Mun Wai from the Progress Singapore Party, Law and Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam said the police did not recommend prosecution after taking into account that no injuries were caused and the incident did not last for a long time.
The man also has a history of mental disorder, which may partly explain his actions, Mr Shanmugam added.
Instead, he was given a warning for an offence of intentionally causing harassment, alarm or distress.
The man was caught on video throwing the rainbow flag – which is used to represent the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) community – at the people working at the Smol salad bar in Lau Pa Sat.
He also shouted at them for displaying the flag, and is alleged to have said: “Not everybody supports LGBTQ… How can you put up this flag?
“You are the kind of people who are destroying Singapore.”
The video was widely circulated on social media.
In a Facebook post on Wednesday (July 7), Smol founder Charmaine Low said she was thankful the investigations have ended and she now has “emotional closure”.
She also thanked the LGBTQ community and its supporters.
She said: “To those who have been the voice for our community – Pritam Singh, Leong Mun Wai, K. Shanmugam, as well as the Singapore Police Force, thank you.”
In March, Leader of the Opposition Pritam Singh raised the issue in Parliament and Mr Shanmugam responded by saying everybody in Singapore will be protected by the law, regardless of community, social, religious or sexual identity.
In her Facebook post, Ms Low also urged people not to shame the man or comment on the decision to give him a warning because she believes in destigmatising mental health issues.
She added that many people continue to suffer from abuse in silence and those who need help should talk to someone they trust or contact LGBTQ support services Oogachaga and Prout.
Ms Low said: “I hope this serves as a reminder that regardless of gender identitiy/sexuality, beliefs, religion and race we all deserve to be treated with respect.”
Mr Leong had asked for an update on investigations into the incident, which took place in January.
He also asked if the Government would take further steps to deal with incidents of abuse that are rooted in discrimination.
In his written reply, Mr Shanmugam said: “The Government’s position is clear – harassment and abuse of any person for any reason is not condoned. The law protects LGBTQ individuals the same as everyone else.”
He added that the Protection from Harassment Act contains both civil and criminal measures to protect everybody against offences involving harassment and abuse.
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