Singapore: Thousands turn out in support of LGBT rights

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SINGAPORE’s annual lesbian, bisexual, gay and transgender rights demonstration Pink Dot attracted thousands of people on Saturday.

Organisers hailed the ninth Pink Dot event as a success, stating that “we hope having 120 local sponsors this year is a starting sign that attitudes are changing and will in turn inspire Singaporeans to step up.”

Local media outlet Mothership reported that around 20,000 Singaporeans and permanent residents turned out to show their support for the LGBT community. The event was also live streamed on Facebook.

Sponsorship was a point of controversy in 2017, with the Singaporean government asserting that foreign companies could not donate money to Pink Dot – a move seen by activists as a deliberate attempt to suppress the movement.

SEE ALSO: Singapore: New rules to suppress activism? Group demands answers as Pink Dot nears

Previous events had seen sponsorship from large multinationals like Google, Bloomberg and JP Morgan.

Pink Dot is an annual event that began in 2009, held in the so-called Speaker’s Corner in Hong Lim Park – the only location in the city-state that citizens may stage a public protest. Since 2011 it has inspired similar events in Hong Kong, Penang and New York.

Homosexuality remains highly stigmatised in Singapore, with no anti-discrimination laws in place to protect the LGBT community. A study from 2014 found that 78.2 percent of Singaporeans felt sexual relations between two adults was “always” or “almost always” wrong.

While rarely enforced, male same-sex sexual acts are still illegal. A review of the country’s penal code in 2007 reinforced that anal sex between men remained an offence as “gross indecency.”

Same-sex couples are not recognised under Singaporean law, restricting their ability to purchase property and access other legal rights. It is illegal for same-sex couples to adopt a child.

“We acknowledge there will always be opposition but what is heartening is that there are signs of a shifting middle ground,” said organisers.

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