We found Singapore to be an oddity when it comes to LGBTQ rights. On the one hand, there is a large thriving LGBTQ community here, with lots of gay bars, clubs and events taking place throughout the year. On the other hand, homosexuality is illegal (for men only!), punishable with up to 2 years imprisonment!
In reality, the anti-gay law of Singapore is rarely enforced and strong efforts have been (and continue to be) made to get rid of it. We found Singapore to be super gay. Put it this way, when we were hanging out in Kuala Lumpur’s gay scene, the drag queens we met told us that Singapore is one of the places in Asia they aspire to perform in, citing it as one of the continent’s gay meccas…kinda like Dubai is for the Arab world.
We put this down to the country being so affluent, with many big companies having their Asian headquarters here, like Google, Bloomberg, Barclays, and many more. In addition, the Singaporeans are very well educated and affluent (have you SEEN some of the prices in this country?). They’re also a very internationally minded bunch, with English as the official language: it’s estimated that every 2 out of 5 people in Singapore are foreigners.
In this guide to gay Singapore, we explore the LBGTQ rights in more detail, write about our experience travelling here as a gay couple and also set out some of the best gay hotels, bars, clubs, events, and more.
Gay rights in Singapore
Homosexuality is legal for women, illegal for men in Singapore. This is because section 377A of the Penal Code punishes male homosexuality with up to 2 years imprisonment but is silent about female homosexuality.
Attempts have been made to repeal Section 377A, but the government has insisted on keeping it. In June 2019, at the Smart Nation Summit, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong reiterated that Singapore would keep Section 377A “for some time”, arguing that:
“Whatever your sexual orientation is, you’re welcome to come and work in Singapore…You know our rules in Singapore. It is the way this society is: we are not like San Francisco, neither are we like some countries in the Middle East. We are something in between, it is the way the society is”!