18 Jun 2022

Pink Dot LGBTQ Pride celebrations return to Singapore

It's the first time the event has been able to be held since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.


SINGAPORE: The Pink Dot event returned to Hong Lim Park on Saturday (Jun 18) for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic started more than two years ago.
Among the attendees was People's Action Party (PAP) member of parliament Henry Kwek. According to Pink Dot organisers, this is the first time an MP from the ruling PAP has attended the event.
People dressed in pink queued for about half an hour to get on the field at Speaker's Corner, where the event for members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) community was held. Participants had their vaccination status verified before they entered the area.
Attendees of Pink Dot on Jun 18, 2022. (Photo: CNA/Try Sutrisno Foo)
Attendees of Pink Dot on Jun 18, 2022. (Photo: CNA/Try Sutrisno Foo)
The 14th edition of the event was held in the afternoon and evening, unlike the night light-ups of previous editions.
A pink dot was formed by participants holding up pink placards, while volunteers held white umbrellas forming the word "majulah", which means "onwards" in Malay.
It was also a reference to Singapore’s national anthem, which was sung by participants at 4.30pm, before a concert and speeches by activists. This was followed by the forming of the pink dot at 7pm.
The organisers said thousands of people attended the event on Saturday, but did not give a more specific estimate of the turnout.
MP Henry Kwek (PAP-Kebun Baru) visiting booths at Pink Dot on Jun 18, 2022. (Photo: CNA/Try Sutrisno Foo)
People at the event were encouraged to write messages on the back of photographs, indicating the change they wanted to see for the community. These photographs were then sorted into mailboxes for different constituencies.
Event organisers will deliver these pictures to the respective constituencies "in the coming days", they said.
MP Henry Kwek (PAP-Kebun Baru) arrived at about 3.20pm and spoke to several LGBT community groups that had set up stalls at the event, including Oogachaga, Quasa SG and TransBefrienders.
Mr Kwek, who was dressed in a pink polo shirt and white trousers, took photos at a booth where participants were writing messages on photographs. He also spent some time speaking to the organisers of the rally before leaving just after 4pm.
When asked why he was attending this year’s Pink Dot event, Mr Kwek said that the emphasis should be on the participants.
The Pink Dot crowd cheering as the state flag that's flown as part of the National Day Parade rehearsal flies overhead on Jun 18, 2022. (Photo: CNA/Try Sutrisno Foo)
Attendees of Pink Dot on Jun 18, 2022. (Photo: CNA/Try Sutrisno Foo)
Mr Clement Tan, a spokesperson for Pink Dot, told reporters that the organisers invite MPs to the event every year.
“We think it’s important if you want to know more about the community that they meet us face to face, to hear about our issues,” he said. “So for a Member of Parliament to be here today, we think it’s an encouraging sign of progress.”
Mr Tan added that he was “encouraged” by the number of people who came to the event.
He said that for this year’s Pink Dot, the organisers wanted to “drive home” the theme of the changes they want to see in the community.
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“I think it’s undeniable that societal attitudes have shifted ... and for a lot of Singaporeans, the lack of meaningful progress and change for the community here is unjustifiable,” he said. 
The organisers called on participants to speak out on the issues that affect the community. This is especially if they are struggling with discrimination and prejudice, said Mr Tan.
"We also hope that with the Government’s recent call for more dialogue and engagement, participants here feel that they can speak about their lived experiences, not only through placards but directly, in personal, authentic, genuine messages to their Members of Parliament,” he said.
Attendees of Pink Dot on Jun 18, 2022. (Photo: CNA/Try Sutrisno Foo)
Attendees of Pink Dot on Jun 18, 2022. (Photo: CNA/Try Sutrisno Foo)
On Feb 28, the Court of Appeal upheld a lower court's decision to dismiss three challenges to Section 377A of the Penal Code, which criminalises sex between men.
Days later, Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam said in Parliament that the Government is considering the “best way forward” on the section of the law, adding that the Government will respect different viewpoints and consider them carefully. 
“If and when we decide to move, we will do so in a way that continues to balance between these different viewpoints, and avoids causing a sudden, destabilising change in social norms and public expectations," he said then.
"Policies need to evolve to keep abreast of such changes in views. And legislation needs to evolve to support updated policies."
Ms Jeanne Lim, 44, who was having a picnic with a few friends at the event, said that she was attending the event to support her friends in the LGBTQ community and to protest against Section 377A.
“It’s an unjust law that is discriminatory against the community,” she said. “It’s archaic ... society has now evolved since the colonial days.”


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.