We are all too well aware that Singapore’s official attitude to the LGBT community is lukewarm at best. The city-state may be home to some of the world’s most attractive gay men and women but its government only tolerates them at best. The hated Section 377A remains on the statute books meaning those found engaging in homosexual activities can in theory be prosecuted and sent to jail.
The present government has stated several times it will no longer act on Section 377A. So no more entrapment activities by cute policemen when you are cruising on the beach. But it has added it will not do anything to change the law as Hong Kong did in 1991.
Nowhere is its pettiness concerning gay activities more visible that in its reaction to the annual Pink Dot events. At first it banned gay marches, so Singapore was unable to hold a Pride March that could perhaps have rivalled the one in Taipei which last year attracted nearly 125,000 from all around Taiwan and other parts of the region. As a tourism boost for the city, it must prove a mini-goldmine.
Instead, starting in 2009 Singapore made a small gesture to the LGBT community by permitting them to hold a rally in the small Hong Lim Park. No doubt the government assumed the whole event would be nothing more than a damp squib. Wrong! It was an extremely popular gathering with many parents joining their gay children and bringing even smaller children with them.
Over the years, Pink Dot increased in size and popularity. Major international corporations, which Singapore makes intensive efforts to attract to the city, made donations to help Pink Dot develop. By 2016 it had attracted 18 sponsors of which 13 were international companies like Google, Apple, Facebook, Barclays and J P Morgan. Then 18 months ago in an act of what can only be termed “spite”, the Ministry of Home Affairs enacted regulations which all but ensured that overseas companies could no longer be associated with Pink Dot. From thenceforth, non-Singapore citizens would also no longer be permitted to take part. Police were located at every entrance to the Park to check ID cards and enforce the rule. This might have killed the event. It did not. The organisers went door-to-door around Singapore companies and ended up with 120 local companies providing more than S$240,000, exceeding their target by a massive 60%.
VIDEO: Gay Rainbow and the Passion of those attending in 2017 Event
By 2015 Pink Dot attracted a record 26,000 attendance, so great that the Park had reached capacity. To show the world that Singapore citizens take pride in the LGBT community, the organisers arranged an overhead photo. This appeared in most of the worldwide media. It must have given the government the shivers! Sadly it probably had something to do with the more recent restrictions. Despite these, 20,000 still turned up last year. No doubt more will do so this year to help celebrate the event’s 10th anniversary.
Ironically the 2018 date coincides with the annual Racial Harmony Day, an event in which schools reflect on Singapore’s racial and cultural heritage. AsiaGuys.NET wonders when the government will finally accept that the city’s LGBT community is a key part of that heritage. Until then, we urge gay travellers to Singapore to bear in mind its anti-gay rhetoric and laws.
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