2022 – The Pink Dot Pride Rally returns in Singapore

Lim, 21, was born male and now identifies as a trans female. This year’s rally was her first and she competed alone.

“Going into the army is just as you can imagine,” she said. “I can’t embrace this side of myself in public and only have friends in the online community.”

“But today I decided to show up on my own and have no idea what to expect. I brought a skirt and put it on when I arrived at the park and was greeted warmly. I enjoy everyone’s presence.”

After two years of virtual parades due to the pandemic, Singapore’s biggest gay pride event returned to Hong Lim Park on Saturday, where it debuted on May 16, 2009.

On that hot, humid afternoon, thousands came out carrying pink banners and waving rainbow flags in support of the city’s gay rights movement.

Among the crowd were Representative Henry Kwik of the ruling People’s Action Party and Buffalo Lim of the opposition Labor Party.

Gay sex in Singapore is still illegal, even if it is consensual between adults and takes place in a private setting. But societal attitudes are changing, while still largely conservative, activists say, and the government is now considering “the best way forward” whether to change the law, which has been in place since Singapore had one more than 60 years ago that was a British colony.

Politics must evolve to keep pace with such shifts in opinion. “Legislation must evolve to support the updated policies,” Singapore’s Minister of Justice and Home Affairs K Shanmugam told a recent parliamentary session.

“And if we choose to act, we will do so in a way that continues to balance these divergent viewpoints and avoid a sudden and destabilizing shift in social norms and public expectations.”

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Last week, the Disney Pixar movie Lightyear received an NC16 rating in Singapore, which bans children under 16 from seeing the movie in theaters due to a controversial scene depicting a same-sex relationship.

Singapore’s Media Development Authority said the animated film was not suitable for younger viewers due to its “obviously homosexual imagery”.

“We have no respect and no equality no matter what we promise – that’s why it’s important to host the Pink Dot every year,” said Nizam Razak, a 36-year-old gay man at the Pink Dot. “Why don’t our children see a gay kiss? We have already been wiped out in many aspects here in society and this is not OK.”

“When will things really get better for us in the gay community? It’s hard to say.”

Nizam Razak at this year's Pink Dot Pride Parade in Singapore.

Organizers said turnout was higher than in previous years and hoped the momentum would continue next year.

“The planning was a little hasty, but at the end of the day we made it happen. We gathered thousands to support our cause for gay rights and pride in Singapore and that was the goal,” said a representative.

For first-time visitors like Dawn Lim, the Pink Dot experience “was nothing like Singapore.” “This garden, this pink sea–it was really a safe place and I’m glad I was able to experience what it’s like,” Lim said.
“For one day a year I feel free to be myself without fear or judgment from people, and when I leave Hong Lim Garden tonight, I come home and go back to my hidden life.”

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