The government of Singapore has banned a number of public events linked to the island nation’s third annual Pride festival.
The festival began at the beginning of August and was intended to encompass two weeks of associated events including film screenings and seminars, but organisers have been repeatedly stymied by officials.
The government has already banned a gay photo exhibition, a poetry reading and a human rights discussion, and has now barred a picnic and fun run from taking place at the Singapore Botanic Gardens.
The island’s National Parks Board has stopped the events from going ahead on the basis that they were deemed to be political in nature.
“It was never meant to be political, and this testifies to the paranoia of the government,” Alex Au, one of the Pride organisers, told the Associated Press.
The move has highlighted Singapore’s restrictions on lesbian and gay life. Homosexuality is illegal, with a maximum two year prison sentence for engaging in gay sex.
While this is rarely enforced, the gay and lesbian community face restrictions on public intimacy and regular censorship of films and other media.
Recently Oscar winning, openly gay actor Sir Ian McKellen criticised the government’s homophobic stance in a radio interview will visiting the island, saying that, “It would be impertinent of me to comment on Singapore society but this happens to be a law that I find personally offensive and I don’t think it should be on the statute books because it inhibits my free behaviour as an openly gay man.”