Asia

Singapore gay rally draws thousands amid controversy

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Media caption'Wear white' video adverts have urged people to boycott the pink rally, as Sharanjit Leyl reports

An annual gay rally in Singapore has drawn thousands amid an unprecedented backlash from religious groups.

Pink Dot has been held every year since 2009. Attendees wear pink clothing and sit down for a mass picnic that ends with the forming of a pink dot.

But this year it falls on the eve of Ramadan, prompting an Islamic teacher to start a Wear White campaign against homosexuality, which has been supported by a Christian organisation.

Gay sex is illegal in Singapore.

Government leaders, as well as national organisations representing mosques and churches, have in recent weeks called on both religious and gay rights groups to act with restraint.

The Pink Dot rally proceeded peacefully on Saturday evening with no sign of anti-gay campaigners. Organisers said 26,000 people attended the event.

Wear White issued a statement saying it discouraged supporters from attending Pink Dot, as "it should be an event that no Muslim is associated with".

Some chose to go online instead to protest at the event.

About 4,000 people so far have taken part in a virtual rally called FamFestSG. Its Facebook page carries a quote from Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong that defines the term family as "one man one woman marrying, having children".

The backlash has reignited the issue of gay rights in the largely conservative city-state.

In recent years, there have been two legal attempts to declare that the law banning gay sex is unconstitutional.

Singapore's government has said in the past that while it will retain the law to reflect mainstream society's stand on the issue, it will not be actively enforced.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Some attendees turned up for the Pink Dot rally and mass picnic in colourful costumes
Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The Pink Dot rally featured an area where attendees could write questions and answers on gay issues

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