Singapore is considering introducing the world’s first law against “cancel culture”, which involves calling out individuals or organizations for perceived social indiscretions. The government is concerned about the escalating conflict between gay rights supporters and conservative religious groups following the recent decriminalization of homosexuality in Singapore. While the proposed law has raised concerns among activists regarding potential limitations on free speech, the government aims to strike a balance between protecting free speech and preventing hate speech. Authorities are examining existing laws and regulations in response to feedback from conservative Christians who fear being canceled for their beliefs. Online “cancel campaigns” can have a severe impact, leading to self-censorship and hindering reasonable public discourse. Defining the act of canceling poses a significant challenge, as there is no widely accepted definition, necessitating precise wording and clear definitions for the law.

Given that “cancel culture” predominantly occurs online, the law would need to address internet-specific aspects and may involve cooperation from social media platforms. Platforms might be required to regulate users or comply with court orders, such as by removing posts that violate the law. Identifying perpetrators of “cancel culture” would require special legal mechanisms to address the rapid spread of information and potential harm to reputations. Singapore already has internet-related laws, including regulations against fake news, cyberbullying, and doxing. Any “cancel culture” law would need to be distinct and carefully crafted to navigate the complexities of online interactions. The government’s objective is to establish appropriate boundaries between hate speech and free speech while mitigating the negative effects of “cancel culture”.