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Understanding Singaporeans' attitudes toward homosexuality and perceptions of media portrayals of lesbians and gays: A longitudinal investigation

Principal Investigator (PI): Assoc Prof Benjamin Detenber

Co-Principal Investigator (Co-PI): Assoc Prof Shirley Ho, Dr Mark Cenite

Collaborators: Nil

Start Date: Nov 2014

End Date: On-going

Abstract: Homosexuality remains a controversial topic in most societies including Singapore. In recent years, public debate about homosexuality in Singapore has surfaced on multiple occasions in light of concerns about discrimination, equal rights, and regulation of media portrayals. This research project seeks to advance social scientific theory and inform public discourse and policymaking by investigating the current climate of opinion towards homosexuality among Singaporeans. The study will be a continuation of previous studies conducted in 2005 and 2010, thus contributing new data that can provide for trend analyses for a topic that has contemporary social significance.

Specifically, this project aims to document changes in Singaporeans’ attitudes towards lesbians and gays (ATLG), acceptance of homosexuals, and perceptions of media portrayals of homosexuality. In addition to analyzing for shifts in the relative influence of factors over time, the study will expand on the theoretical framework established by the researchers in previous studies by including new predictors such as social conservatism. It will also examine tolerance as a new criterion variable and examine its association with ATLG and acceptance. Additionally, we will assess how framing and question wording affect ATLG, acceptance, and perceptions of media portrayals of homosexuality.

We propose a multi-method approach that will yield quantitative and qualitative data, thus allowing for triangulation. Survey, focus groups and experimental methods will be employed to address our research aims and hypotheses. This study represents robust longitudinal research, which is valuable in establishing causality and documenting changes in human behavior. Findings will benefit policymakers by providing detailed and objective data about Singaporeans’ ATLG, acceptance and tolerance of homosexuality. Knowledge about Singaporeans’ perceptions of media content depicting homosexuality can help inform media regulation and censorship. It will also help to fill a gap in the scholarly literature on social aspects of homosexuality in Asian contexts.