Press Release: A LOVE Note, from 28,000 at Hong Lim Park to reaffirm their support for the Freedom to Love
Seventh edition of the annual rally for inclusivity and diversity culminates in iconic dot formation in an uplifting event in the face of challenges over the past year.
Singapore, 13 June 2015 – Despite the previous evening’s stormy weather, clear skies greeted participants for the seventh edition of Pink Dot SG, seeing its largest turn-out yet, with more than 28,000 people coming together to form Singapore’s iconic symbol of inclusivity and diversity: a giant human pink dot.
This year’s Pink Dot focuses on the message, ‘Where Love Lives,’ and invites the community to reflect on the progress that has been made towards dispelling the discrimination and prejudice that face lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, as well as the many challenges that still remain. In celebrating the capacity for love which lives within Singapore as well as all Singaporeans, Pink Dot aims to help build a kinder and more inclusive Singapore.
Among the major challenges the community had faced over the past year, probably the biggest was the verdict in October last year by the Court of Appeal upholding the constitutionality of Section 377a of the Penal Code, which criminalises physical intimacy between men. Before that, children’s books supporting same-sex families were taken off the shelves in July, while Ikea’s tie up with a vocal anti-LGBT magician pastor in April this year had caused widespread discontent among LGBT Singaporeans.
After that, in May, Jolin’s Tsai’s song ‘We Are Different, Yet The Same’ got censored. Similarly, a 35-second pre-event advertisement for Pink Dot that was meant to be screened in cinemas at around the same time, was only yesterday (Friday, June 12) refused a rating by the MDA after a two-month wait, effectively banning it. The MDA cited the reason that “it is not in the public interest to allow cinema halls to carry advertising on LGBT issues, whether they are advocating for the cause, or against the cause.”
“Pink Dot this year holds special significance for us. After the setbacks that we had experienced over the last 12 months, giving up and losing hope would have been the easy thing to do. But we also know that Singapore’s LGBT community are a very resilient bunch, and in view of these challenges, we still have much to celebrate,” said Paerin Choa, Pink Dot SG Spokesperson.
This year, Corporate Singapore threw its support behind Pink Dot, with the largest-ever list of corporate sponsors. International social media powerhouse, Twitter, local entertainment giant Cathay Organisation, as well as financial software, data and media company Bloomberg, join returning sponsors Google, Barclays, Goldman Sachs, BP, J.P. Morgan and The Gunnery, all of which are committed to helping to increase society’s understanding and social acceptance of LGBT people.
Adding to the corporate support, shops and outlets around the Speakers’ Corner are also throwing their hats into the glittery pink arena, forming a new ‘Pink Street’ where people can enjoy drinks, food, make friends, and purchase Pink Dot merchandise. These include outlets along North Canal Road like Settler’s Café, Elevate Gym, Asia Wine Network, and D’Bell Singapore.
The event kicked off with the Community Voices segment, where invited speakers from the LGBT community, and straight allies, shared stories on their personal challenges and touched on their hopes and dreams for a better and more compassionate Singapore.
Among the Community Voices invited this year, are some very personal and insightful stories told by some very brave members of our community. Topics raised include personal anecdotes of struggle, and these include Avin Tan’s story as an HIV-positive gay man; Christopher Khor’s journey of family acceptance as a trans man, and Russell Heng’s speech on being gay and elderly.
Pink Dot 2015’s ambassadors were then introduced on-stage by theatrical doyens Ivan Heng and Glen Goei: multi-talented performers Patricia Mok and Daren Tan, and Hirzi Zulkiflie, one-half of YouTube comedic duo Munah & Hirzi. Together, the Ambassadors had spearheaded the year’s publicity campaign, and are themselves strong and spirited supporters and advocates for the inclusivity and diversity in Singapore.
This was followed by the Pink Dot concert, which saw home-grown talents such hip-hop star ShiGGa Shay, acclaimed local indie singer Inch Chua and the much-celebrated Gentle Bones take to stage with their unique brand of music. Dance group Plus Point kept the adrenalin pumping with their moves, and Ambassadors Hirzi Zulkiflie and Daren Tan themselves kept audiences entertained through the evening.
Complementing this, and adding to the park’s atmosphere of conviviality and vibrancy, was the Pink Dot’s signature Community Tent. Established as a focal point for Singapore’s diverse array of LGBT and LGBT-friendly organisations, this year’s Tent saw 23 groups making their presence felt in Hong Lim Park. These include the ASEAN SOGIE Caucus, Oogachaga, Young Out Here, Pelangi Pride Centre, Purple Alliance, Maruah, Humanist Society, the Inter-Uni LGBT Network, Tomboy Pride, and plenty more.
People were also encouraged to take part in Pink Dot’s social media campaign, #WhereLoveLivesSg. Powered by local social media agency, Campaign.com, participants upload photos of themselves forming heart shapes with their hands, accompanied by a short write-up of why they support the Freedom to Love.
The event culminated at sunset, when participants all came together to form a shimmering, giant Pink Dot with torches, mobile phones and light sticks. Following in last year’s footsteps, a massive word formation spelling ‘LOVE’ was illuminated in white light within the sea of pink, creating a strong message of inclusivity and acceptance, even as Singapore celebrates SG50.
And the finishing touch: 28,000 voices belting out the song, ‘Put A little Love In Your Heart’ originally performed in 1969 by Jackie DeShannon.
Concludes Paerin Choa, “While some congregate on the pretext of protecting the conventional family, we are here to embrace all families, and all individuals. We believe everyone deserves the Freedom to Love, and the Freedom to be themselves.
“We recognise that the journey towards inclusivity and diversity in Singapore is still some way off, but we are confident that we will be able to achieve this together, one day in the near future.”
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Support the Freedom to Love with Pink Dot SG:
Watch our 2015 Campaign Video and Ambassadors Video and more on Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/pinkdotsg
Instagram & Twitter: @PinkDotSg
Hashtags: #PinkDotSg #FreedomToLove #WhereLoveLivesSg
Social Media Campaign: www.campaign.com/wherelovelivessg
About Pink Dot Sg
Pink Dot Sg is a non-profit movement started by a group of individuals who care deeply about the place that LGBT Singaporeans call home. Why Pink? Because it is a blend of red and white – the colour of Singapore’s flag. It is also the colour of our national identification cards. More importantly, Pink Dot Sg stands for a Singapore in which all Singaporeans, regardless of their sexual orientation, are free to love and be loved. 2,500 people supported this cause in 2009. In 2010, this nearly doubled to 4,000. In 2011, over 10,000 participants turned up, growing to 15,000 in 2012, and 21,000 in 2013. Last year saw 26,000 people come together at Pink Dot 2014, making it the largest gathering at Speakers’ Corner since its inception in 2000.