Singapore stands as a beacon of progress in Southeast Asia, demonstrating a steadfast commitment to fostering an inclusive society. The city-state's multifaceted approach towards accessibility, gender equality, LGBTQ+ rights, mental health awareness, workplace diversification and public safety underscores its dedication to ensuring a high quality of life for all residents and visitors. 

With initiatives that span from infrastructural developments to legislative reforms, Singapore continues to evolve, striking a balance between its rich cultural heritage and the demands of a modern, globalised world. Below, we delve into the various aspects of Singaporean society, highlighting the government's efforts to create an environment where diversity is celebrated, opportunities are equitable and safety is paramount. 

Whether it's enhancing the public transport system to accommodate individuals with disabilities, promoting gender equality in the workforce, supporting the mental well-being of its citizens or safeguarding against discrimination, Singapore demonstrates a commitment to progress. Below, we discuss diversity and inclusion in Singapore. 


Accessibility in Singapore

The Singapore government is committed to making its infrastructure and services accessible to people of all abilities, particularly across the public transport network.

Trains

The Mass Rapid Transit system (MRT) offers at least one barrier-free entrance at every station and wider, automatic ticket gates for wheelchair users. All stations are accessible by elevator and designed to make travel easier, particularly for anyone with impaired sight or hearing – from tactile surface indicators to Braille lift buttons and signage. On board the MRT, the following station names are announced and displayed as the train approaches and departs each stop.

Buses

Most buses have wheelchair-accessible bus services (WAB), and drivers (called captains in Singapore) operate the boarding ramps with complete courtesy. Wheelchair users can spot buses equipped with WAB by a logo on the front windscreen – and request a ramp using the blue button on the side of the bus. Some interchanges, including Bukit Batok, Choa Chu Kang, Woodlands, and Yishun, have special WAB boarding facilities, including enhanced signage, ramps, guard rails, and staff assistance buttons.

Taxis and private hire cars

While relatively inexpensive, most taxis in Singapore are not completely accessible – unless a passenger can be transferred to the car and their foldable wheelchair stowed in the boot. For wheelchair users needing help to transfer to a car, GrabAssist offers professionally trained drivers focused on passengers with different needs. There are also several organisations online that provide specialised services, including vehicles for those with motorised mobility aids.

Useful links


LGBTQ+ in Singapore

Singaporean society is traditionally conservative when it comes to sexual orientation and gender identity. Public displays of affection, straight or gay, may be more muted in Singapore – especially outside more cosmopolitan areas. Attitudes toward the LGBTQ+ community are slowly shifting and becoming more accepting, especially among younger people.

Events such as Pink Dot have seen increasing attendance since 2009 without interference. Same-sex marriages and the adoption of children by same-sex couples are not recognised in Singapore. This doesn't seem likely to change any time soon, as amendments to the constitution were made as recently as 2022, solidifying the definition of marriage as strictly between a man and a woman. On the other hand, also in 2022, substantial legislation changes were made to lift a colonial-era law criminalising sexual activity between men.

There are several local organisations offering extra guidance, including Oogachaga, a community-based, non-profit organisation working with lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning and queer individuals, couples, and families in Singapore since 1999.

Further reading


Gender equality in Singapore

Equality of opportunity is enshrined in the Singaporean constitution, where 'all persons are equal before the law and entitled to equal protection under the law'. Since 1994, employment rates for women aged 25 to 64 have risen by 50 percent.


Women in leadership in Singapore

Almost a quarter of Singapore's Members of Parliament – and around 21 percent of commercial senior managers – are women. This compares well with international averages, except at corporate board level or across C-suite positions, where 92 percent are men. International organisations with offices in Singapore fare better, helping to shift traditional, subconscious mindsets that exist across much of Asia.


Mental health in Singapore

It's not uncommon to experience problems with emotional well-being through concerns about work, family, finances, or the future, while neglect or abuse may also negatively affect one's mental health. There are plenty of places to seek support in Singapore. Below are some helpful names and numbers that expats experiencing mental distress can use while in Singapore. 

Useful resources


Workplace diversification and unconscious bias in Singapore

Bias around gender, age and ethnicity inhibits effective hiring, limits development, and lowers staff morale. As a proud and productive business hub, Singapore is doing a lot to tackle traditionalist values that restrict growth. Diversity is a hot topic for employers and a focus for the Singapore Business Federation. There are many active initiatives and courses. 

Useful links


Safety in Singapore

Crime rates throughout Singapore are low. Violent offences, including thefts, muggings, murders, or gang-related activity, are extremely rare. Street harassment or sexual assault are also uncommon, and most women say they feel completely safe alone, including late at night.

There are instances of scams involving unauthorised retailers – and petty crimes such as pickpocketing and purse snatching do take place, though infrequently. The only offences on the increase are cybercrime and credit card fraud. Most long-term expats in Singapore say they have never encountered crime. Those who have been victims say the Singapore police are prompt, helpful and highly efficient.


Calendar initiatives in Singapore

4th February – World Cancer Day   
8th March – International Women's Day   
7th April – World Health Day   
June/July – Pink Dot SG   
10th September – World Suicide Prevention Day   
10th October –World Mental Health Day   
25th November – International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women   
1st December – World AIDS Day

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