FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Singapore, 24 June 2023 – Thousands gathered for the fifteenth edition of Pink Dot at Hong Lim Park, and the first to take place following the historic repeal of Section 377A in 2022. The event culminated in a night-time formation with the word “Family” lighting up the night in the colours of the rainbow.
“Since repeal, we have heard countless conversations about the need to protect ‘family values’ from the LGBTQ+ community. What are you protecting families from? We have families and love them too,” said Pink Dot SG spokesperson Clement Tan. “LGBTQ+ people are often minorities within our own families and often face rejection by the very people who are meant to support us. When we strive to form our own versions of family, we encounter obstacles because we do not fit the mould of a traditional nuclear family. We are told that our bonds are not worthy of recognition and that we do not belong here. It was thus so beautiful to see families – biological and chosen, ally and queer – coming together at Pink Dot to take a stand for a more inclusive Singapore, one which celebrates and supports all families regardless of what they look like.”
Elaborating on Pink Dot’s direction after repeal advocacy, he said: “Our advocacy will always reflect the community’s most pressing needs. Research shows that the community is most concerned about issues such as bullying and harassment, barriers to starting families, as well as barriers to buying homes. This year’s theme is a response not only to damaging anti-family narrative, but reflects a real concern shared by LGBTQ+ people and allies alike.”
The findings are part of a study commissioned by Pink Dot in partnership with Milieu Insight, and will be released in full later this year.
Five community speakers took to the soapbox: Siew Kum Hong, business leader and former Nominated Member of Parliament, who filed the first citizen’s petition for the repeal of Section 377A; Medli Dorothea Loo, actor, theatre-maker and the voice behind the Pink Dot 15 campaign video; Robin Lim and Linda Foo, the parents of a gay child; Cally Cheung, mother-to-be and Director of Prout, a group championing connections within the LGBTQ+ community; and Azfar Anwar, Co-founder of Quasa, a queer advocacy and support group for LGBTQ+ minorities.
Afzar Anwar spoke of the hurt and isolation faced by many in queer minority communities: “When I did not feel like I have a community to feel safe within, a place of worship I could not be myself in or appear as myself in, and when I didn’t even have any friends or family I could turn to, and upon whom I could lean — those were not by choice. My friends, we share this experience.”
Acknowledging the pressures parents face when they learn of their children’s sexuality, Robin Lim had the following plea for parents: “It is our hope that you follow your hearts rather than your minds. Every child that comes to us is a gift. Your LGBTQ child has to go through a much more challenging and difficult journey, with hurdles to overcome. We, as parents, should not add another obstacle in their journey.”
Cally Cheung, who is expecting her first child with her wife, said: “With this great joy comes fear. What if my child is bullied in school for having two mothers? Further, our family is not legally recognised. As the birthing parent, I can adopt our child. But what if I pass away? Will she be able to adopt my child — our child? And what about the Singapore gay fathers who cannot even stay with them here, long-term, legally? Many of us leave Singapore, because we have no choice. We leave because we want the best for our children, for us to be recognised as a family. But there are still many of us living in Singapore, hoping to make a change.”
Rally participants were treated to dance items and musical numbers by Bottom to the Top, M1LDL1FE, The Sing! Men’s Chorus, shot day (Cayes Wong & Levi Mak), PreetiPls and Singapura Queens. The final formation was ushered in by local singer-songwriter Jean Seizure’s rendition of Katy Perry’s “Unconditionally”.
The community tents, a mainstay of Pink Dot, hosted 26 community groups with initiatives targeted at supporting thriving and resilient families in the community. They included new community group Proud Parents, which aims to provide support and information for queer parents; and Oogachaga, which is hosting the first “My Family Matters” tea session, a support group for parents and family members of LGBTQ+ persons in July.
Pink Dot 15 thanks all partners and sponsors for their support. The Red Dot For Pink Dot initiative saw robust support from local businesses this year, with 91 corporate sponsors and 48 individual sponsors.