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7 Aug 2007

singapore bans gay picnic

A picnic to be held at the Botanic Gardens on Singapore's National Day and organised as part of Singapore's pride festival has become the latest victim of the country's anti-gay system.

"In the Pink," a picnic listed on Indignation's calendar of events, has been cancelled after "organisers" were informed by the National Parks Board that its use of the Botanic Gardens for the picnic to be held on Aug 9 - Singapore's national day - has been disallowed.

The National Parks Board (NPB), which manages the Botanic Gardens, sent well known gay activist Alex Au a letter notifying him of the board's decision although he was not the organiser. The NPB said in the letter that the picnic is deemed to be an "organised gathering" held by an "interest group to politicise (its) cause" can not be held on the grounds of the gardens.

Miak, the organiser of the event, clarified that he did not apply for a permit as he did not expect a permit to be needed for a picnic.

Last week, Au's photographic exhibition featuring same-sex couples kissing was disallowed by the censors. A lecture focusing on the law and sexual orientation to be delivered Prof Douglas Sanders, professor emeritus at the University of British Columbia and Thailand's prestigious Chulalongkorn University, was not given the go ahead. The organiser has however announced that the event will still go ahead as planned without Prof Sanders's attendance.

The Botanic Gardens web site states that organised activites which involve groups of 30 or more requires written approval.

The decision to not allow any "organised gatherings" has also affected a 5km morning walk and run planned for Aug 11. Runners celebrating the eighth anniversary of the Adventurers Like Us (Adlus), a LGBTS sports group, will now run around the gardens instead of through it like they usually do.

The organiser said in a statement: "The (National Parks) Board is clearly misinformed about the intention of 'In the Pink'; it was meant as no more than a social event for friends from the community. But their misapprehension is not surprising, since anti-gay elements are constantly painting every gay activity as dangerous and subversive."

Explaining why the picnic is being cancelled, Miak said: "Never intending to make the picnic a politicised event in the first place, the organiser does not really want to do so now, even in the face of such provocation by the authorities. Thus, it is deemed wiser to cancel the event and issue this statement instead."

Although the event has been officially cancelled, members of the LGBT community and their families are encouraged to have a picnic at the gardens all the same. The organiser ended his statement saying, "It would be a sad day if the Botanic Gardens were to say that gay people can't stroll or picnic on their grounds simply because they are gay. Or is that what they are saying?"

Other updates about Indignation events:

Tue, 7 Aug: Sexual orientation in international law: the case of Asia Update from organiser at press time: Despite the police refusing a permit for Prof Douglas Sanders to speak - he has since chosen not to visit
Singapore - the event will still go on. The topic may be altered slightly, but will still focus on the law and sexual orientation.

Wed, 8 Aug: Troy Perry, My Life Story
Safehaven is proud to present Rev. Troy Perry, the founder of the Metropolitan Community Church, which now boasts 250 congregations around 23 countries, with a combined congregation of tens of thousands. Troy will be speaking on the Gay Christian witness in the modern world, and what it means to start a new church that is affirming, accepting and supportive of GLBT individuals and the role that MCC plays in modern America.

Update from organiser at press time: Safehaven was contacted one week before the event by the police and immigration saying that the event needed a PELU license and a professional visit pass. Applications have since been submitted, pending approval. If approval is denied, a by-invitation event will still be held, with Rev. Troy Perry in attendance. It will start with a short worship session, followed by a reading of his book "Troy Perry, Pastor and Prophet". He will be available after the session for individual questions. For details on RSVP, please visit Safehaven's website for more information.

Film screenings: all screenings have been cancelled "due to MDA (Media Development Authority) problems."

For the latest info, please visit the Indignation web site.

Reader's Comments

1. 2007-08-07 19:12  
Really pissed off by the behaviour of the Singapore governement. I was expecting the governement to be less strict after the declarations of MM Lee...
2. 2007-08-07 19:40  
well....I guess there are certain matters in Singapore that we do not have a say in....esp in such matters which involves the LGBT....we can go on making comments about how the government is like this and how the government is like that....but is there anything that we can do to change their mind set??? It is already hard enough for some of us to even change our families' mind set about ourselves....don't even talk about trying to change the mind-set of non-LGBT Singaporeans....we would sometimes just have to accept the way of life...or either that we migrate overseas.....like what the government is fearing. (If we can't fight them, we play along with them!!!)
3. 2007-08-07 20:23  
Hmm... well, what people can do is go to botanical as general public... have a picnic like what friends will do... which happen to be all gay, and form cluster that just a few person short of being illegal gathering, and without any political reason lar! if like that also cannot, maybe they should put a sign outside that main gate and said, " No Pets or Gay allow"... What are we trying achieve here by having a gay picnic knowing that is not acceptable at this moment... Pushing the issue is fine, but pushing the issue too far is just a matter of ruin all the good point that was gradually added to us.

At the moment, we are in the shade, but there will be time, that we will see the light...Be patient. We can't change the society in short time, let alone this one.

So picnic with your friends ok?

4. 2007-08-07 20:35  
Maybe next step they gonna banned all gay people in this island. AIDS increased also blame us, but they never look at how many chinese woman nowadays around the city, dress as a school girl or a nice lady but in fact a protistute
5. 2007-08-07 21:09  
Keep trying people! The authorities are trying to snuff us out by denying permit for almost everything. Once we give up trying to organise these events, it signals to them that they've won.. Never give up.
6. 2007-08-07 21:12  
Many thanks for your hilarious and highly entertaining articles over the last few weeks. It all sounds like a surreal take on some old British civil service comedy from the Elstree Studios in the fifties.

Could call it "I not Gay 3".

7. 2007-08-07 21:15  
no need to waste money anymore. now the gov is very smart. they let you all spend time and money organising activities and then ban it at the last minute. that way, they can financially drain you dry.
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9. 2007-08-07 21:44  
sg is so annoying. -.-
10. 2007-08-07 21:51  
But you gotta laugh
11. 2007-08-07 22:06  
go ahead with it and see what can they do?
jail you for having a pinic? hahahah

wait.. its singapore a place i call home... and yes.. they do amazing things..

so i think they might just do it somehow or rather....
what they want they gets..

12. 2007-08-07 22:13  
it's beginning to feel like singapore's gay community is taking a somewhat passive and conforming attitude towards the country's equal rights laws.

If u look at the history of gay activism u'll see people sacrifice more than just our sunday picnic arrangments to set things straight (i mean forward).

So i say ladies, why not ask a few more friends to join in and picnic all you want anyway. It's a free country and only gay people visit botanic gardens anyway.

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15. 2007-08-07 22:48  
That's the "City of Possibilities" for ya... : /
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20. 2007-08-07 23:44  
>>if like that also cannot, maybe they should put a sign outside that main gate and said, " No Pets or Gay allow"...>>>

Wat?? No pets allowed in Botanic Gardens???
21. 2007-08-07 23:44  
Rumor has it that the person initiating the complaint COULD be

a. A lawyer
b. A nominated member of parliament
c. A Christian fundmentalist
d. Daughter of a well-known homophobe
e. All of the above
f. None of the above

Draw your own conclusions.

p.s. Girlfriend - careful what you say or do, this is a small country, and rest assured we've got friends EVERYWHERE
22. 2007-08-07 23:44  
All of the above.
23. 2007-08-08 00:03  
omg! perhaps we need to conduct a survey of how to arrange ourselves in the garden, sit in circle or triangle so that no people will get caught. Or ask: how close shld 2 people of the same gender sit beside each other so that no people will think they are gays? On the other hand, if we organise a BBQ event at East Coast Park, how shld we divide ourselves among the BBQ pits? Not more than 10 at pit 7, the other at pit 14 and 21??
24. 2007-08-08 00:27  
well I'm defintely going to be there cos I promised my 2 nieces I'll be taking them. try telling 2 pink princesses they can't go to a pink party after I've already told them about it. and yes, we WILL be wearing PINK. & bringing PINK food & drinks. you can't miss us. come say hello!
25. 2007-08-08 00:52  
It took mankind 500 yrs to admit that slavery is wrong; so I guess even now the lawmakers in a "first-world" country needs time to "wake up their ideas". Agree with what That_max5 said, just go there for a picnic with pink baskets, skip all over the garden and see what they would do, but bring ur video phones along and film any "incident" to post on Internet. As Jack Neo advised "It's not whether u can or not, it's whether u dare or not" Keep going bro & sis!
26. 2007-08-08 00:54  
Here comes the "Anti-Homo" thing again..
Our sg is sooooo Close-Minded..
27. 2007-08-08 02:01  
Blah blah blah... Here we go again wif the Anti-Homos! Singaporean still Narrow minded as expected! No place for Homosexual in Singapore! Whatever... Nextttttt..... (",)
28. 2007-08-08 02:22  
Ooopss Singapore did it again!
29. 2007-08-08 07:58  
hmm frankly speaking i am sad. But come to think of it, things r not that bad. At least, we r not hunt down like in some other country. Frankly speaking, putting ourselve in their shoes... they have their stand and ground. Of cos, we have ours. Hmm i always believe the harder u press, the greater the repelling force. Perharps we should "以退为进" mean "treating retreat as advance" for now?
30. 2007-08-08 08:38  
you can expect more things to be cancelled as long as your grandpa lee is alive.... to them we are like cockroaches of the society. thats unless you made it real big internationally bringing in lots of $$$$$$$. perhaps he'll just let you have a picnic. meantime fuck each other muted, cuz he can hear you....
31. 2007-08-08 09:55  
I think lets ponder for a while before we jump the gun and make all kinds of negative remarks. Sometimes we have ourselves to blame. Have you been to some of our parties ? Guys almost naked , bare bodies , sweat , perspirations , skin to skin etc ..... what message are we sending to our anti gay cousins ??? Think aboyt it ? If we want people to accept us , I think we need to behave ourselves first and gain their respect. We need to respect ourselves first before others can respect us. IT's that simple.
Anyway if this picnic is cancelled , I am sure we can come up with something where we can just be ourselves minus the topless , skin to skin gatherings.
To all my pink bros and sistas - lets stand with one voice. The more we push , the stronger will be the resistance. Learn to live by the rules. As long as we are not discriminated , abused , hurt like in other countires , I am sure we will be there someday. Happy National day !!
32. 2007-08-08 10:21  
Being a hotelier, and looking to relocate, Singapore would have been an Option. Not anymore after the recent events. Now living in Cambodia, and even this third world country is, when it comes to gay rights, more liberal than the otherwise so higly developed city state. Having traveled to SIN for Nation 03 and 04, Singapore won't see me for a long time, neither for business, nor for pleasure.
33. 2007-08-08 11:11  
Stipid government! Why bother going and investing in such place!
34. 2007-08-08 12:07  
God if the Singapore Government thinks there are no Gay men or women there then boy are they stupid.
One more reason NOT to ever set foot there again!
35. 2007-08-08 12:35  
it's just a picnic... let's just all go as ourselves as individuals and have our own private citizen's picnic. That way , its not really 'organized', and I do believe that no permit is required for this...

The heavy-handedness reminds me of the Harry Potter movie currently showing...
36. 2007-08-08 12:40  
Matahari-Gar, I get what you're saying but this article is about the banning of gay pacnic at the botanical gardens. I'm sure nobody was planning on going there naked. Anyway, what's wrong with that?
37. 2007-08-08 13:09  
Matahari-Gar, straight people have foam parties, street parties and what not in bikinis and various scraps of fabric too. No one seems to blame heterosexuality for such behaviour.

Do us a favour and stop making excuses why gay people aren't "good enough" and can't be accepted by society as we are.

You wrote, "Anyway if this picnic is cancelled , I am sure we can come up with something where we can just be ourselves minus the topless, skin to skin gatherings."

The picnic is exactly that (wholesome and all) but it's still being disallowed. What do you think we should all do? Stay in the closet - literally?
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41. 2007-08-08 15:05  
I, for one, find it very amusing the Sg govt is relaxing pole-dancing & lewd content fr those foreign trash mags with their pseudo-whore cover gals one can purchase even in the heartlands, while @ the same time commanding us to keep our head down over a community party...c'mon pops, who are u trying to fool when you say its "contrary to public interest?"
42. 2007-08-08 17:40  
Regardless of all the hoop-la and carry-on, I still do not understand why the citizens of Singapore have not taken their government to the World Court or the United Nations for breaches of anything at all.

The one thing the Sing Gumin does NOT want is world publicity on the G word and issues. So make these things as public as possible in the most public of places. The test of "public interest" is equality for all under the law.
43. 2007-08-08 20:14  
There needs a paradigm shift, sadly to say that we couldn't change the society's view overnight. If there are over 30% of Singaporeans are gay, I believe there won't be such saunction imposed on PLU like now. Pardon the Singapore Gov't for their ignorance to have not open their door now.
44. 2007-08-08 20:27  
Talk about social norm and sensitive issue,
Singapore is going to have the biggest breast feeding campaign tomorrow where mothers whom support breast feeding is going to make an effort to make it a social norm by making it the biggest number of mothers breast feeding in a single day in the world.

Well there is nothing wrong with that about breast feeding. But if government use the reason of sensitivity for the resident of the nation, how about people whom are not very comfortable seeing a mother breast feeding a kid in public, straight or gay?

Where is that consideration goes?Maybe the sight of gay man are more disturbing than anything else in the world? All gay people want is to walk comfortably under the sun for a day in the year and we also want to make it a social norm as well so there is less discrimination on our sexuality not to make str8 Population of singapore turn gay by encouraging gay lifestyle.

Gosh i hate the world lifestyle used in this context. As if is a lifestyle in which one can adopt at will.

Being gay is as norm mother as breast feeding a child.

45. 2007-08-08 23:24  
I cannot believe how homophobic the Singaporean government is, when it is supposedly the most developed nation in the region! I am taking a trip to Asia (my first one) in late November and was planning to spend a few days in Singapore, but I am reconsidering now that I find the government so offensive!
46. 2007-08-09 00:42  
Over the last 12 years, I have consistently refused to base a regional office in Singapore -- simply because it is such a backwards country where human rights are concerned. Thus far that means about 75 white collar jobs: yes, we are voting with our feet!
47. 2007-08-09 03:44  
Sometimes its hard to make any judgment on who is right or wrong !
The government and the general public has their stand, and we have ours.
I somehow do agree that occasionally gays can go overboard at clubs and private gatherings, with semi nudity, chems and indecent exposures...perhaps we need to do something about that too..in the eyes of the general public its unacceptable. What can we say ? Who can we blame?
Singapore after all is not a bad place for gays. In the US, gay bashing is so common and to be identified as gays can sometimes be a 'frightening' experience. We still have gay clubs, saunas in Singapore. Its not that bad after all. Singapore can never be another Bangkok.
I myself as a gay would not like the idea of seeing it to be one. We cant have everything according to what we desire !
48. 2007-08-09 11:16  
This doesn't come as a surprise. I came across this
That's a view of future government to come.
Well..guess we just have to shower them with more love..Speaking of love and pride. I wonder what we have demonstrated and contributed to the rest of society enough with charity work and campaigns. I personally feel that we ve been only battling with words theories and moral compasses.Let our action speaks.Could they refuse our impartial kindness and love?I am just suggesting a different school of thoughts.Perhaps fridae could look into this.
49. 2007-08-09 11:35  
When we stand up to be counted, we get swept under the rug. Time and time again. But we are an integral part of the fabric of society. It is forgotten that we, as much as any other quarter of civil society, contribute economically, culturally and socially. Society is perhaps not so civil here. On this our 42nd National Day, it might be time for us to start voting with our feet.
50. 2007-08-09 22:24  
PM and even MM have openly discussed about topics on homosexuality, but yet the government bodies are going all way out to prevent further "infiltration" of homosexuality within Singapore. Efforts have been put in to bring about equality among all citizens and information on PLU. However, the government are still so protective towards the citizens making it a taboo subject, hence explains the ignorance and fear on homosexuality and transgender. Perhaps, the national pledge should also include regardless of sexual inclination...
51. 2007-08-10 11:08  
Just what's wrong with the Government and their damned system?
52. 2007-08-15 21:31  
I live in the UK and have lived through the UK's period of "enlightenment"! I also travel frequently and extensively in Asia, including many visits to Singapore, going back now many years.

I applaud all the eforts of PLU's in Singapore and I should like to offer this by way of help.

Gay Disney originated in Orlando, where the Disney Organisation flatly denied any involvement - they even went further to say that their "family entertainment" would not subscribe to such an event.

But we all perservered. We wore red shirts on a specific day which WE knew was Gay Disney day! and nods and winks all round.

This in the face of Disney employment figures showing a decidedley gay slant - service industry of course - we're good at that!

Five years of this and Disney realised they had to accept the inevitable and recognise Gay Disney day.

Some eight years later and the only empty hotels in the area are the ones NOT waving the Rainbow Flag and it's now Gay Disney WEEK!!

My point is that perhaps the prejudice is so great right now in SG that a "softly softly, catch monkey" approach could be better.

Certainly arrange the picnic in Botanic Gardens, but don't make it official. Merely invite indiciduals to attend wearing a particular colour shirt or clothing - perhaps a differnet colour each year from the Rainbow Flag.

The object of the exercise to to show the doubtful that we (YOU exciting gay Singaporeans) that we are ordinary people first, don't have two heads, don't wear makeup, carrying handbags (well, not many of us anyway!!) and certainly don't abuse the environment or set out to harm anyone.

The penny will gradually drop and Parents will begin to worry less when their son comes out as they will realise he is their son first and has a sexual preference second.

I write this having recently returned from Brighton Pride in England where the attendance was reckoned to be in the region of 150,000 - and now recognised as a great party event hosting a very wide range of tastes and styles (oh how true that was!!) This event started as a small party in the park with no particular agenda.

I wish you all good luck in your endeavours, open or clandestine!

Sad that there is not to be a Nation Party 2008. Can't something be done to resurrect it?
Wouldn't it be great to continue it and be asked in a few years' time to have it return to SG??
It will happen. Because it's happened everywhere else.

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