Penguin dads, X Men, drag shows and all.

The annual LGBT picnic Pink Dot takes place June 13 at Hong Lim Park, with celebrity ambassadors, a snazzy campaign video by hotshot filmmaker Boo Junfeng and more corporate sponsors than ever before—new to the list are Bloomberg, Twitter and Cathay Organisation. But how are LGBT issues in Singapore actually faring outside the wholesome annual picnic celebration? We scour the news between this Pink Dot and the last to see.

 

July 8, 2014
Two weeks after Pink Dot 2014, the National Library Board withdrew two children’s books with positive depictions of same-sex (penguin) parents and families. After a vigorous two-week debate, the NLB ultimately moved the books to the adult section.

July 25, 2014
Several news outlets reported that a 2012 issue of the X-Men comic depicting a same-sex wedding was allowed on the shelves in Singapore, even though in March, an issue of Archie comics was removed for the same reason. The MDA said that the content guidelines “allow for the balanced depictions of same-sex relationships if they do not encourage or promote alternative lifestyles.”

September 2014
Sisters June and Alicia Chua turned an old shophouse attic into a shelter for transgender women in Singapore who have been turned away by their families. Since its inception, people have donated generously to The T Project and the three people who live there.

October 29, 2014
Singapore’s Court of Appeals ruled that Section 377A of the Penal Code, which criminalizes consensual gay sex is not unconstitutional. The judgment stated that this was a matter for legislative bodies, rather than the Court of Appeals.

January 14, 2015
Queer Singaporean performer Loo Zihan restaged the famous “Completely With/out Character” monologue by Paddy Chew (aka the first Singaporean to die of AIDS) at the M1 Fringe Festival.

February 14, 2015
Local drag queens Becca d’Bus, Noris, Mona Kee Kee, Galaxia Birch launched RIOT!. While local gay bars have the occasional drag show, this is the island’s first proper drag revue, with new acts joining often. RIOT! takes place the second Saturday of every month, though the one in June is on the 20th.

March 27, 2015
Singapore’s most famous drag queen, Kumar, began a short run of his show Kumar Stands Up for Singapore at the pro-establishment, mainstream Esplanade. He did one last year as well, but this one was rated R18.

April 22, 2015
Despite backlash from gay netizens and their allies, the local office of liberal Swedish brand IKEA said it would go ahead with its support of anti-gay pastor Lawrence Khong’s magic show, saying “all individuals have a right to their opinions and personal choices, including the freedom to choose their preferred entertainment.”

May 7, 2015
The Inter-University LGBT Network announced its launch at the Pink Dot press conference. The first-of-its-kind network comprises five independent student groups from Yale-NUS College, Tembusu College, NUS, SMU and NTU and aims to provide “safer, more inclusive school communities.”

May 22, 2015
The pop song “We’re All Different Yet the Same” by Taiwanese singer Jolin Tsai, which features a lesbian wedding and kiss, was reportedly banned in Singapore. A couple of days later, the MDA clarified its position, telling The Straits Times that “Ms Tsai’s song is allowed in Singapore with the requisite age rating and consumer advice.” We asked the MDA about the probability of their content guidelines changing in the near future as social tolerance increases. Their spokesperson said, "Decisions on suitability of content for broadcast are reached after consultation with MDA’s advisory panels, which comprises Singaporeans from a wide cross-section of society.”