Singapore Gay Rights

Two women cheer at a rally called the 'Pink Dot' in support of gay rights in Singapore's speakers corner at the 2013 event. Pic: AP

SINGAPORE (AP) — Gay rights activists have gathered in downtown Singapore for a rally that this year drew unprecedented criticism from religious conservatives, with one influential Christian pastor calling on the government to ban the event.

Previous Pink Dot marches have been held without much opposition. But as they grew in numbers from less than 3,000 people when the first march was held in 2009 to more than 20,000 last year, so did their disapproval.

On paper, gay sex remains a criminal offence in this wealthy, multi-cultural city-state of 5.4 million, although authorities rarely enforce the British colonial-era legislation.

One of the most vocal critics is Lawrence Khong, the founder and pastor of the 10,000-member Faith Community Baptist Church. He says he can’t understand why authorities have allowed Saturday’s rally.