Man who threw pride flag at Lau Pa Sat eatery staff issued 24-month conditional warning

He was found to have committed an offence of intentionally causing harassment, alarm or distress under the Protection from Harassment Act (POHA).

Joshua Lee | July 07, 2021, 11:59 AM

The 47-year-old man who took down a pride flag at a Lau Pa Sat stall counter, threw it at the staff, and shouted at them has been issued a 24-month conditional warning.

He was found to have committed an offence of intentionally causing harassment, alarm or distress under Section 3(2) of the Protection from Harassment Act (POHA).

The resolution to the case was shared in a written reply by Minister for Home Affairs K Shanmugam to a Parliamentary question by Non-Constituency Member of Parliament Leong Mun Wai from the Progress Singapore Party.

Leong had asked for an update on the investigation into the incident. He also asked whether further steps would be taken to deal with such incidents of abuse due to discrimination.

"Police did not recommend prosecution in consideration that no injuries were caused, the man had a medical history of mental disorder which may explain in part his actions in the case, and the incident was not protracted," said Shanmugam.

Shanmugam: Law protects LGBTQ individuals the same as everyone else

The minister went on to reiterate the government's position — that harassment and abuse of any person for any reason is not condoned.

"The law protects LGBTQ individuals the same as everyone else," said Shanmugam.

Aside from POHA which protects victims against offences involving harassment and abuse, the minister cited other legislation like the Penal Code, which criminalises acts involving hurt or incitement of violence, and the Maintenance of Religious Harmony Act (MRHA) which was amended in 2019 to penalise those who urge violence on the grounds of religion or religious belief, against any person or group.

Case background

On January 18, staff of SMOL Singapore at Lau Pa Sat were confronted by the man who had spotted the pride flag which was displayed at the cashier's counter.

When the owner of the stall explained that they put up the flag to show support for the LGBT+ community, the man allegedly said:

"Do you know that this is a public food court? Not everybody support LGBT!!?? How can you put this flag??"

He also allegedly called the stall's staff "the kind of people who is destroying Singapore" and told them to "go to hell".

CCTV footage of the incident showed the man grabbing the flag and throwing it at a staff behind the counter.

SMOL Singapore's owner, Charmaine Low, said that it was "an unfortunate incident with someone who was not interested in having a peaceful conversation" as well as a reminder that "discrimination against LGBTQ people in Singapore is well and alive".