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Singapore’s Gay Community Holds First-Ever Rally

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS Published: May 16, 2009

SINGAPORE (AP) — The gay community in tightly controlled Singapore held its first-ever rally Saturday, taking advantage of looser laws on public gatherings to call for equality.

About 2,500 participants wore pink clothing, played music and sang songs at a park known as Speaker’s Corner, said organizer Pink Dot, which represents Singapore’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender residents.

”This is a great opportunity for us to make our pitch for the equal treatment of the LGBT community in Singapore,” said Roy Tan, a Pink Dot spokesman.

Singapore’s government has become more tolerant toward gays and lesbians in recent years, but sodomy is still illegal, Tan said.

Deputy Prime Minister Wong Kan Seng told the state-owned New Paper on Friday that gay people ”have a place in our society” but warned they must ”not assert themselves stridently as gay groups do in the West.”

The government eased a ban on public demonstrations last year, encouraging Singaporeans to air grievances at Speaker’s Corner as long as they don’t discuss race, language or religion. The government says public discussion of those subjects could enflame passions and create instability in the multiethnic city-state.

Last year, Singaporean investors met at the park after losing money on structured notes issued by Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc.