With Singapore’s National Day on August 9, the entire month is often filled with patriotic songs, flags flying from blocks of flats and the Singapore Story being told over and over again. But how much of the Singapore Story is truly our history? Who is telling it? What have they included? What have they not included? That’s what this year’s IndigNation would like to examine.
In its eighth year, IndigNation is Singapore’s month-long LGBT pride festival, especially held in August so as to coincide with the nationalistic fervour that sweeps through the country every year. This year’s theme, ‘Our Very Own’, seeks to reclaim and revisit Singapore’s cultural heritage, especially in relation to the history of the LGBT movement. Events will be held all over Singapore, and include a book launch, a photo exhibition, discussions and even a game show. While Singaporeans gather in Marina Bay or around television sets to watch the National Day Parade, IndigNation will also be hosting a Pink Picnic at the Botanic Gardens.
Although Singapore’s government claims it is not actively enforced, Section 377A of the penal code criminalises sex between men, and is seen as infringing upon the rights of gay men in the country. The law has been challenged in court, and has been awaiting a decision from the Court of Appeal for almost a year. Opening night at IndigNation included a panel discussion on this issue, opening up to the floor to discuss how it would be possible for the LGBT movement to progress towards the repeal of 377A and beyond.
While lawyers Lynette Chua and Indulekshimi Rajeswari gave brief overviews of the history of the LGBT movement and the constitutional challenge to 377A, blogger Alex Au urged people not to just wait for the legal process to bring change, but to be more pro-active in working towards social and political change.
“Waiting for the legal process to deliver what you want is like waiting to find the perfect boyfriend or girlfriend,” he said.
Ideas flew back and forth, and time ran too short for all issues to be addressed. But with a month of activities ahead, the hope is that the eighth IndigNation will leave the LGBT community a few steps ahead of where they are now.