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LGBTQ

What A Pride March Looks Like In A Country That Criminalizes Gay Sex

In Singapore, Pink Dot is the only way the local LGBTQ community can celebrate pride publicly.

by Edoardo Liotta
02 July 2019, 7:52am

Left: Edoardo Liotta. Right: Check Yong.

Singapore’s Hong Lim Park shone bright pink on Saturday, June 29 for Pink Dot, the island’s only LGBTQ pride gathering. Pink Dot is different from other pride rallies seen around the world, where people roam the streets, moving the celebration across a city.

Pink Dot is held at the Speakers' Corner as it is the only place on the island where groups can gather without a permit. Individuals or entities who want to use the space must register, however. The event is confined within the limits of Hong Lim Park and is only open to Singaporeans and Permanent Residents. This has been the case since a 2017 law banned foreigners from assembling at the Speakers' Corner, since "foreigners and foreign entities should not... interfere in our domestic issues, especially those of a political or controversial nature,” said Minister K Shanmugam.

Although Singaporeans and foreigners can't rally for LGBTQ rights hand in hand, locals still showed up in impressive numbers to express solidarity. Thousands gathered despite the rain to rally for the repeal of section 377A, a law that criminalises gay sex in Singapore. Section 377A of the Penal Code was implemented during British colonial rule, and states that sex between mutually consenting adult men is illegal and punishable by up to two years in prison. The same law exists unchanged in other countries across Asia, such as Malaysia and Myanmar. India had it too, but it was repealed last year.

The celebrations were extensive. Among others, local queer performer Joshua Simon took to the stage, as well as ally entertainers Preetipls and Subhas. Drag queens stole the show, young people were dancing to the performances across the park, and pink ice cream and pink coconut water were among the pride-themed goodies handed out by sponsors.

But it was when Pink Dot organisers asked members of the LGBTQ community to write down derogatory terms that have been used against them and hold them up on paper, that best highlighted how queer people still feel excluded in Singapore.

This underlying sentiment culminated during the festival's light-up, which was led by Paerin Choa, a Pink Dot spokesperson and lawyer.

“It has been a decade and yet our leaders seem to be selective in their listening when it comes to the discrimination that LGBTQ people face every single day,” Choa said. “We continue to be made invisible and marginalised in Singapore where we are denied respect and dignity by the laws and the policies of this country.”

“Tear down this law,” Choa said repeatedly, the crowd chanting with him. With this, attendees lit up pink lights while volunteers spelled the words ‘’Repeal 377A” with white umbrellas.

This is what the light-up looked like from above:

This is what the light-up looked like on the ground:

Here are photos from the event:

pink dot entrance singapore pride
Photo by Natalie Thomas.
rain pride lgbtq pink dot singapore
Photo by Neville Teo, courtesy of Pink Dot.
lgbtq pride rally signs
Photo by Edoardo Liotta.
lgbt rally pink dot pride singapore draq queens
Photo by Edoardo Liotta.
1561963225648-DSC01877
Photo by Edoardo Liotta.
pink dot singapore pride lgbtq
Photo by Edoardo Liotta.
pride rally singapore pink dot
Photo by @geekywhale, courtesy of Pink Dot.
lgbt dog pride cute
Photo by Edoardo Liotta.
lgbt rally pink dot pride singapore draq queens
Photo by Edoardo Liotta.
lgbt rally pink dot pride singapore draq queens
Photo by Edoardo Liotta.
lgbt rally pink dot pride singapore draq queens
Photo by Edoardo Liotta.
lgbt rally pink dot pride singapore draq queens
Photo by Edoardo Liotta.
preetipls subhas pink dot lgbtq pride
Photo by @nexa_S, courtesy of Pink Dot.
lgbt rally pink dot pride singapore draq queens
Photo by Edoardo Liotta.
pride rally singapore pink dot
Photo by @nexa_S, courtesy of Pink Dot.
pink dot
Photo by Chek Yong, courtesy of Pink Dot.

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