Gay Singapore: A Brief History
September 17, 2004
Apr 1983: Opening of disco called Niche, where same sex
dancing is allowed.
1988: Three gay plays by local playwrights are banned
from being performed.
May 18, 1989: Vincent’s Lounge, the longest surviving
gay bar today, opens in Lucky Plaza. Today it is located at Duxton Road.
1992: Censorship Review Committee recommends “materials
encouraging homosexuality should continue to be disallowed.”
May 30, 1993: Police raid Rascals, a gay-on-Sunday disco
and harass patrons for no apparent reason. In a departure from the usual
resignation to official bullying, 22 gay people, including lawyers, doctors,
and other professionals, sign a letter of protest addressed to the Chief of
Police-and receive an official apology. This is the last documented incidence
of police harassment of gays. This is also the catalyst for the formation of
1996: I-S Magazine’s publishing license is suspended
for one issue because of gay content appearing in the personal ads section.
Nov 7, 1996: First application for registration of People
Like Us (PLU) as a society.
Nov 1996: Launch of Yawning Bread website, a resource
center of essays and political commentary.
Mar 15, 1997: Email forum, Singapore Gay News List (SiGNel),
Apr 9, 1997: PLU’s application is rejected. PLU appeals
all the way to the Prime Minister’s Office but is not successful.
1997: Opening of Taboo, the first openly gay club, now an
icon in the gay club scene.
Oct 15, 1998: Establishment of RedQuEEn!, an email list
for queer-identified women.
Dec 11, 1998: Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew fields a gay
question live on CNN International.
Mar 1, 2001: www.fridae.com, a regional gay e-portal, is
Aug 2001: First Nation party; turnout of 1,500 people.
Aug 2002: Second Nation party; turnout of 2,500.
Jul 7, 2003: Then Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong is quoted
in Time (Asia) as saying that gays are allowed to serve in “sensitive
positions” in the civil service.
Aug 8, 2003: Third Nation party; turnout of 5,000 people.
The party is broadcast on local TV in four languages on prime time evening
news on National Day, Aug 9, 2003.
Aug 27, 2003: PELU license approved for “Homosexuality
and Homophobia—Beyond the Hype” (Applied Psychotherapeutic Issues for
Counselors) organized by SPACES, supported by PLU. This is a conference aimed
at helping counselors and teachers to deal with psychotherapeutic issues
related to homosexuality and homophobia. (SPACES is a private non-profit
counseling agency with gay and non-gay clients.)
Sept 2003: The Ministry for Information, Communications
and the Arts (MITA) agrees in principle with the Censorship Review
Committee’s recommendations for relaxing the ban on gay themed movies and
Dec 2003: Opening of Pelangi Pride Centre, a GLBT
community resource center.
Jan 2004: Government announces review of sex laws, but
seems to exclude homosexuality.
Mar 2004: Second attempt at registering PLU as a society
Aug 8, 2004: Fourth Nation party; turnout of 8,000
Aug 2004: Four gay plays, Mergers/Wills in Chinese (Toy
Factory), Mardi Gras and Top or Bottom (The Necessary Stage) and Private
Parts, are staged. Three gay themed exhibitions are also held for the first
time: Red + White = Pink (Utterly Art), Erotica (Art Seasons) and Private Edge
(B2G Gallery). They feature gay themed art and gay artists from Singapore and
Groups and Resources
ADventurers Like Us (www.adlus.org)
Sports- and nature-minded gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) group.
Regional gay and lesbian portal; includes personals.
Group that aims to build support, friendship and positive lifestyles within
the gay community by organizing sports and other activities.
Pelangi Pride Centre (www.pelangipridecentre.org)
Community space and resource center for sexual minorities in Singapore.
People Like Us (www.plu-singapore.com)
Gay advocacy group working for the understanding, removal of barriers and
fuller integration of sexual minorities with the larger community.
Women-only general and social mailing list for gay women. The group runs a
counseling service, The Looking Glass.
Gay and lesbian Christian support group.
City guide and social portal for gay men.
Yawning Bread (www.yawningbread.org)
Essays and gay themed news.
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