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Singapore is considering laws to ban ‘cancel culture’

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Can you cancel 'cancel culture'? Singapore has unveiled plans to ban the trend, but it won't come without a raft of difficulties. Here's why
can you cancel cancel culture

Singapore is considering laws to ban ‘cancel culture’ in the country.

Cancel culture is a phenomenon that seeks to boycott public figures believed to have acted in an inappropriate manner. It’s become an increasingly familiar term in recent years, buoyed by the rise of social media.

The background

Singapore is a largely conservative city-state island country in southeast Asia.

At the end of last year, Singapore decriminalised homosexuality. The law that made homosexuality a criminal offence had been in place since the 1930s, but hadn’t been actively enforced for about 15 years.

In light of the decision, some religious groups were concerned they’d be ‘cancelled’ for their views on homosexuality.

One day after the Government announced it would decriminalise homosexuality, Singapore’s Law Minister, K. Shanmugam, said it was also considering new laws to add protections against ‘cancel culture’.

“Religious groups feel that their freedom to express their views, to preach, is being curtailed by groups which cancel them… we cannot sit by and do nothing.”

Can you really cancel cancel culture?

TDA spoke to Chooi Jing Yen, a partner at Singaporean law firm Eugene Thuraisingam. He said he’s not aware of any other nation that is considering similar laws.

Chooi told TDA there are “obvious difficulties” with how to define when something or someone has been cancelled. He said there would also be difficulties around how the law would interact with pre-existing laws, such as harassment laws.

Chooi also said there could be practical difficulties.

This could include how the law would impact online ‘cancelling’ acts posted from outside Singapore, or from devices using a VPN to mask their true location.

Chooi also asked: “How effective will [a law] be to order that an original post be taken down if it has already spread like wildfire and been reposted multiple times?”

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