365Gay: Singapore gays plan massive rally (Nov 7)

Friday, November 7, 2008

(Singapore) Singapore’s LGBT community is planning a massive rally to celebrate gay pride and chastise the government for its tough stand on homosexuality.

The event will mark a loosening of tight controls on public demonstrations at Speakers’ Corner in Hong Lim Park.

The rally is the brainchild of Roy Tan, a gay man who works in the health care industry. Tan, 50, originally planned to hold the event next week, but postponed it until next year, saying there had been such large LGBT interest he would need more time to organize it. Tan also said that he will form a committee with a number of those people who have offered help.

But he said that the event will be restricted to people from Singapore. Tan said that if foreigners were involved, it would require a police permit which might not be granted.

He said he hopes to hold a pride march around the park and then have speakers who would press for the repeal of anti-gay laws in Singapore.

Last October Singapore’s Parliament passed a sweeping revision of its penal law, eliminating sodomy as a crime for heterosexual couples but leaving in place provisions that could send gays to prison.

Under the law, anyone engaging in same-sex sodomy could face two years in prison, although police say no one has been charged in recent times.

Last August, Singapore banned a gay pride event, saying it ran counter to the city-state’s public morals.

In addition, censors refused to allow an LGBT book reading event that was to have been part of the pride celebration. A human rights forum was blocked. And a photography exhibit of of gays and lesbians was closed by police hours before it was to officially open.

The Media Development Authority balked at a book by author Ng Yi-Sheng about a young man’s fictional sexual adventures with older men including military officers and government officials.

The authority said that the book went beyond good taste and decency and disparaged public officers.

The human rights forum was to have featured Douglas Sanders, a professor emeritus in law at the University of British Columbia, Canada, and Thailand’s Chulalongkorn University.

The forum, titled “Sexual Orientation in International Law: The Case of Asia,” was deemed contrary to public interest.

The censorship board ordered the photo exhibition closed because it showed photos of gay men and women kissing. The board said that the show violated Singapore law because it promoted “a homosexual lifestyle.”

Earlier this year, the government fined two television stations that showed gay content.

One aired an episode of a home and decor series called “Find and Design” that featured a gay couple wanting to transform their game room into a new nursery for their adopted baby.

The other ran a commercial that showed two lesbians kissing.