The Pink Dot celebration of queer Pride returned to Singapore's Hong Lim Park on 18 June - the first time the event has able to have been held since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.
This was the 14th time that the Pink Dot event has been held in Singapore, with attendees wearing pink - the signature colour of the event.
Thousands of people attended the event - including Member of Parliament, Henry Kwek. The theme of this year's event was "Onwards".
The event was an opportunity to again raise awareness of the continuing failure of Singapore's government to remove the laws that make homosexuality illegal.
Why is homosexuality illegal in Singapore?
By taking advantage of regional instability and a power struggle within the Malaysian Sultanate, the British government colonised Singapore in 1819.
British control of the island included the introduction of the British legal system, which – at that time – included laws against sex between men.
Singapore became independent in 1965, but the colonial legal system remain in place.
Following a review of the Penal Code in 1938, the laws that policed sexual activity were documented within Section 377A of Singapore’s Penal Code. The laws meant that anal sex and oral sex were prohibited for everyone – heterosexual or homosexual. In 2007, amendments to the law specifically legalised anal sex and oral sex for heterosexual sexual encounters, but they remained criminalised for man-on-man sexual encounters. Sex between women isn’t covered by Section 377A and doesn’t appear to have ever been explicitly prohibited in Singapore law.
The punishment for sex between men is two years’ imprisonment. Prosecutions and convictions are rare, but the government has consistently resisted calls for the law to be reviewed.
Research into the archives of the British Government has shed some light on why Section 377A was enacted. A 1940 report to the British Government official responsible for the administration of Singapore reveals a direct link between the enactment of Section 377A and the colonial administration’s concerns about its Singapore officials’ extensive use of male prostitutes at that time. The 1940 report details disciplinary action taken against government officials in 1938 – the year that Section 377A came into effect. This suggests that Section 377A was designed to regulate and control prostitution rather than what was happening in private between consenting adults, but the reality of this law has been the criminalisation of gay men.