I got an email.
You don’t know how much I appreciate getting emails from you readers. I mean emails that say more than “show me your boobs” and who either in a constructive way say that they like or hate what I am writing.
This time I got a question, and that is almost (yes, almost) better than getting a compliment about this little blog here.
A couple from Europe is looking to see what options were available for them if one of them were offered a job in Singapore. How will life be for them? how difficult is it to integrate into society, will they be accepted? What about even getting a visa into a country that does not accept same-sex marriage?
Got to know, from the email that is (no I am not an internet stalker. Not much anyway) that they got twins(!!) that they would bring along. Well, yes of course they would bring their children with them doh! What I mean is, a same-sex, female, married couple and they got twins as well!! I could feel the green horns of jealousy grow out of my forehead while I read the email? Sure I could, but I still gave a rather lengthy reply and spend the rest of the day thinking about the email and thought that it could be an interesting blog post as well.
I am currently looking into my options with IVF, donors and so on, because yes, I am lesbian, but I really want children too (I just don’t want to turn into an angry cat lady or someone with Bellatrix Lestrange scary staring eyes every time I see someones children) and I feel that time is running out for me. So it is getting serious for me now. More about that in another blog one day.
So you or your same-sex partner just got a joboffer in Singapore or your company asked you to spend some time in the office that they have in Singapore?
Congratulations, your life just got more difficult.
For straight couples, the process is well, straight forward with very few issues. Apply for the working visa and then apply for the Dependant Pass for the spouse, if she (or he), is not going to work, or does not have an immediate job offer.
For gay couples, then it is normally not possible to get a Dependant Pass for the spouse – well, unless your name is Tim Cook, Clare Balding or simply someone with a high profile name and job, then you will be able to get a Dependant Pass for your spouse in Singapore. But if you are one of the mere mortals and working for a company who have no, or very few government connections, then the chances to get a Dependant Pass to the spouse, then they are slim.
There are other options to that. I mean besides just giving up and do something else at home.
You can get the working visa and then you can with your company as a sponsor, apply for a Long Term Visit Pass for the duration of stay for your partner. This option is “okay” if you are going to work in Singapore for less than a “few” years. But your partners rights will be limited and will not be able to get even the most basic things in her or his name – like a cellphone subscription, bank account, or a local credit card among other. That is the same with children, and everything about them will have to be registered through the one who are holding the working permit. In short a Long Term Visit pass, is just a tourist visa with a permission to stay for a longer period of time.
Another and even lesser option is for your partner to stay on a tourist visa, and then every 60 to 90 days leave Singapore for a weeks time, and then return again. This option is only good if you are going to stay in Singapore for less than a year, else I guess that your partner will go crazy within a brief period.
But the absolutely best option is to get the employer to simply employ your partner as well in some kind of a role – if they are able to do that, or that she or he, find a job at another company within a brief period of time.
Not being able to do anything and simply living on a tourist visa, will eventually drive anyone crazy, or just bored out of their minds. After a while people just go crazy and frustrated about their lack of rights and options.
Another alternative is to get your partner to open a small company and sell whatever you can think about. That will give them the option for a working permit through the newly registered company, but is a rather costly way of securing a visa.
I have heard about several who have set up their own small companies, just to get the visa and then live with that. I have from and known several couples who’s partners is living in Singapore on a tourist visa or on a long term visit pass, and make it quite well. But it is a challenge to go through, that you have to think about before you move to Singapore.
For your children (if you have any), then there will be very few issues getting a visa for them. I mean if they in the home country is registered as the child to either both, or at least to the one who is going to get the working permit.
So you sorted out the visa. Then what?
Living in Singapore is not that big an issue for foreigners and I have known several gay couples who had a fantastic time in Singapore while they were in the country.
In the last year, things have socially changed a little for the worse. The religious communities in Singapore, primarily the Christian and Muslim, as well as the probably next prime minister of Singapore, see the LGBT movement in Singapore as a threat, so there has been quite a lot of social pressure on the community and on the local education system – who have never been inclusive anyway (my 10 yr old niece recently got detention for telling her teacher that her aunt is gay and that she thought it were okay to be one), so if you are planning to get your children into kindergartens or schools, then you might have to look around a little to find the right one, and be sure to really ask into their views and let them know about who you are as a couple. But usually money is more interesting than personal believes to many in Singapore, so as long as you can pay, then I don’t think that you will find too many issues. I mean besides that some have a hard time looking in your eyes when they are talking, and the usual obvious things when straight people don’t know what to do with themselves when they realize for the first time that the ones they are talking to are gay.
You won’t have any issues with housing and being a gay couple either. Well, there are again some odd social rules that apply when looking for housing, but as a European couple, then you can simply ignore those (because you WILL be paying too much for the place that you are going to rent). Besides there are currently so many available apartments that landlords are fighting between each other to rent out their apartments. The only challenge is if you stay for a year or less, then you will in many cases pay a little extra for that. The easiest is to ask your company to find and pay for the housing if that is an option.
Living in Singapore is easy for a European couple. I mean you might hear some comments here and there behind your back if you show too much affection in public, but then again, walk through Little India in the weekends and you will see hundreds of straight Indian men holding hands, so….
Update (June 14th, 2016)
I would love to hear from you if you are planning to move to Singapore with your partner. If you have any doubts and especially if you managed to get your partner in without too many issues securing a visa.
Feel free to contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions or if you need to share your horror or sunshine stories with anyone.