Swedish furniture retail store IKEA has come under criticism in Singapore due to promoting a magic show that features pastor Lawrence Khong of Faith Community Baptist Church, who is known locally for his views against homosexuality.
After reviewing the support the retailer decided not to change its position on the support to Vision magic show, to be restaged at the Esplanade Theatre in July 2015. Members of IKEA’s loyalty programme enjoy discounted rates for Vision.
Gay rights activists and indivisuals opposed IKEA. Members of Singapore’s LGBT community questioned the gay-friendly Swedish furniture giant’s support of the anti-gay pastor.
‘Many people know how diversity-friendly and inclusive IKEA is as an international family brand. They have even won international awards for positive portrayal of LGBT persons in their ad campaigns,’ Leow Yangfa of of Oogachaga, a gay counselling service had told media.
According to Singapore media reports Khong, who once called the LGBT rights movement the ‘onslaught of the evil one’, has repeatedly urged the government to retain its colonial-era anti-gay sex law and championed the LoveSingapore network of churches to lobby against gay equality in Singapore.
IKEA Singapore responded on their Facebook page on April 21:
”Dear IKEA fans, thanks for your patience while we took time to come to an informed decision on an issue that has raised sensitivities in our community.
”After listening to the questions raised, we decided to do a thorough review. We spoke directly with the organisers, reviewed the content and confirmed that the Vision show offers high family entertainment value, therefore we will be continuing our promotion. We regularly offer promotions to our IKEA FAMILY members across a variety of entertainment options, and in this case, our IKEA FAMILY members were being offered a discount on tickets to the show.
”As a company, IKEA Singapore respects the diversity and equality of all people living in our community. We also respect that all individuals have a right to their opinions and personal choices, including the freedom to choose their preferred entertainment.”