W Singapore Posts a Picture of Two Men in a Room, Sparks Controversy

W Singapore/booking.com
W Singapore/booking.com

Spill The Tea

On Monday (14 September), the internet was once again divided into camps of pro and anti-LGTBQ, triggered by W Hotel Singapore’s latest post, featuring two men smiling with drinks in hand, in one of their rooms. 

The couple involved.

W Singapore reposted a photo of gay influencer couple, Andee Chua and Hugo Liu. Andee is a fashion model and co-founder of start-up Kampung Collective, while Hugo is a Taiwanese YouTuber. The hotel reposted the couple’s photo to promote its staycations as travel restrictions are still in effect due to COVID-19. 

In the post, W Singapore had also taken a stand and showed its support for the queer community with the following caption: “Celebrate (love)…Fab #staycations await at W Singapore!”. 

The post attracted thousands of reactions and comments in the hundreds from netizens on Facebook and Instagram. Some were homophobic, but the majority were expressing their support and were impressed by W Singapore’s act of acceptance against the marginalised. People were divided, and bickering ensued over the issue of LGBTQ equality. 

W Singapore responded.

In an interview with Yahoo Lifestyle SEA, W Singapore stated that they are in the business of welcoming all and occasionally feature guests with their permission on our social platforms. The spokesperson for W Singapore also added that the image reposted on social media was not an advertisement, but instead user-generated content of guests, which means that the post was simply a repost of content made by the hotel guests. This particular post just so happens to feature a gay couple in a room, hence all the attention drawn to it. 

So did the couple.

Andee spoke to Yahoo Lifestyle SEA as well and mentioned that the couple had their stay in mid-March 2020, before the circuit breaker. In return for using their images on social media, W Singapore had invited them for another stay. 

Andee also had praise for W Singapore:It’s commendable that W Singapore shared this on their IG page, knowing the backlash they might potentially get. They’ve always been very inclusive, and our stay with them was great – no signs of discrimination and in fact, really welcoming and warming.

Netizens jumped in too.

A glance at the hotel’s Facebook page shows a heap of homophobic comments. In reaction to this, Andee has mentioned that Singapore remains largely conservative with bigots in its midst despite its progressive outlook. 

The viral post garnered over 900 comments and shares respectively. Some comments were in support of the representation, others commented on how it is a great and effective marketing tactic. Other comments had mentioned that they had just booked a stay to support the inclusive hotel. Prominent influencer Jade Rasif commented, saying “I booked a staycation because of this”. On Thursday, 17 September, Jade updated her Instagram stories with her stay at W Singapore. 

Not the first time W Singapore showed support for LGBTQ.

It may seem that this is the first time the hotel has pulled an inclusive stunt like this, but it isn’t. A look through W Singapore’s social media reveals that the hotel has posted several photos of Andee and Hugo before, over the past few months. Most of the posts feature them individually, but the couple is seen together in one post in June. In another act of support, the hotel had a post featuring the hotel chain’s LGBT pride campaign, although that post had a low profile on social media. 

Singapore remains largely conservative.

It is worth noting that homosexuality in Singapore remains illegal under Section 377A of the Penal Code. This year alone saw three different legal challenges against 377A dismissed by the High Court. While younger generations are more accepting of the LGBTQ community, conservative resistance against acceptance and equality for the community remains.

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