Participants dressed in pink enjoy a picnic before taking part in the forming of a giant pink dot at the Speakers' Corner in Hong Lim Park in Singapore June 28, 2014. The annual Pink Dot Sg event promotes an acceptance of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Tr
Participants dressed in pink enjoy a picnic before taking part in the forming of a giant pink dot at the Speakers' Corner in Hong Lim Park in Singapore June 28, 2014. The annual Pink Dot Sg event promotes an acceptance of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community in Singapore, according to organisers. REUTERS/Edgar Su

Thousands of people participated in Singapore's annual gay pride rally, which took place on Saturday, June 29 and many urged for the repeal of a law which criminalises gay sex.

The Republic joins dozens of other cities around the world in celebrating gay pride this weekend but it is the only place where gay sex is still considered as a criminal offence according to the law.

The city-state is facing continuous pressure from the activists since India's Supreme Court struck down colonial-era criminalization of homosexuality in 2018. However, it should be noted that in the region, Taiwan recently became the first Asian country to legalize same-sex marriage.

"The majority of Singaporeans are tolerant. But for us to be accepted, we have a long way to go," said Elaine, 26, a banker who attended the rally with her girlfriend.

"But I'm happy that the government doesn't stop or disallow events like this to happen," she added, asking to give only her first name.

Under the law, a man found to have committed an act of "gross indecency" with another man could be jailed for up to two years, although prosecutions are rare. The law does not explicitly ban homosexual acts between women.

Previous legal challenges to overturn the ban have failed but shortly after the landmark Indian court ruling, a Singapore DJ filed a new court challenge against the colonial-era law.

For 32-year-old public relations executive Devane Sharma, the criminalization of gay sex has repercussions on the society even if prosecutions do not take place.

"The government often says that the law isn't really enforced so it's okay, but there are ripple effects on the rest of society, especially in matters of sexual health and workplace discrimination," Sharma said.

The gay pride rally has been held since 2009 under stringent public assembly laws at Speakers' Corner, an area set aside for demonstrations, performances and exhibitions for citizens and permanent residents only.

During its six decades since independence, Singapore has emerged as a modern, wealthy city-state.

Lawmakers, however, remain cautious over social reforms, partly due to sensitivities stemming from the ethnic and religious mix among Singapore's 5.6 million inhabitants.

But there was an optimistic mood among the marchers at Saturday's rally:

"It's a matter of time. I think within a few years, the law will (be repealed). I am hopeful," Sharma said.