![000_33KU886.jpg](https://storage.googleapis.com/mb-mkt-neo-prod-1-uploads/000_33_KU_886_9d6ccbf5ae/000_33_KU_886_9d6ccbf5ae.jpg) ###### Supporters attend the annual Pink Dot event in a public show of support for the LGBTQ community at Hong Lim Park in Singapore on June 24, 2023. Roslan RAHMAN / AFP ######
SINGAPORE, Singapore -- Hundreds of people wearing pink attended Singapore's annual "Pink Dot" LGBTQ rally on Saturday, the first to be held since the city-state decriminalised gay sex last year. Brandishing rainbow flags and sporting glittery makeup, participants gathered in a downtown park -- the only place in Singapore where protests are allowed without a police permit. "I'm celebrating today because it's been a really long fight," said Ernest Seah, a gay 58-year-old artist and teacher, while sitting on a pink inflatable couch. "And you know, it's great that love wins and the government understands that." Singapore's parliament last year repealed a British colonial-era law that penalised sex between men with up to two years in jail, although the statute was not actively enforced. But at the same time lawmakers passed a constitutional amendment bolstering the existing definition of marriage as between a man and a woman. The amendment essentially closed the door on any future legal challenges that could establish equal marital rights for LGBTQ people. Describing the mood as one of "celebration and joyousness", Pink Dot's spokesperson Clement Tan said it was a "relief" to hold the rally with the law no longer on the books. He declined to specify what Pink Dot, one of Singapore's leading LGBTQ advocacy groups, would focus on next. "We recognise that post repeal, people need a moment to breathe," he said. "Our goal has always been about slowly progressing, and LGBTQ equality, whatever form that looks like," he added. "So repeal was something that was important to us, but it's by no means the end of the work that needs to happen. There's a much longer road ahead of us." The theme for Saturday's rally -- "A Singapore for All Families" -- sought to push back against pressure from conservative groups who fear decriminalising gay sex will erode "family values". "It shouldn't really matter what families look like in Singapore. Most certainly not what the government defines as worthy of recognition. We believe that everyone should stand in the sun," Tan said. Singapore's "Pink Dot" gay rights rally started in 2009 and has regularly attracted sizeable crowds despite a backlash from some quarters. Organisers did not release figures on the crowd size Saturday, but an AFP reporter estimated more than a thousand attended. Open support for gay rights is growing, aided by changing social norms among the younger generation. The percentage of Singaporeans who agree that same-sex couples should be allowed to marry has increased to 32 percent, up from 27 percent last year, a survey released this month by market research firm Ipsos found.

Source: Manila Bulletin (https://mb.com.ph/2023/6/24/singapore-holds-first-lgbtq-rally-since-gay-sex-decriminalised)