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18 Apr 2009

Singaporeans to make a stand against prejudice and bigotry, May 16

The LGBT community and its allies are urged to come out and be counted at what organisers call "the first-ever official LGBT public gathering in Singapore."

Organised by a group of Singaporeans calling themselves Pink Dot Sg - a reference to Singapore being frequently referred to as a little red dot, the event is scheduled to take place on May 16 at at the Speakers' Corner in Hong Lim Park, the only locale where outdoor demonstrations are permitted.

Organisers however stress that the event is "not a protest or a parade - just a simple call for open-minded Singaporeans to come together to form a pink dot, of which aerial photographs will be taken." It adds, "This pink dot is a celebration of diversity and equality, and a symbol of Singapore's more inclusive future."

Last September, Roy Tan, a gay Singaporean man and well-known member of the community, registered with the National Parks Board to stage an event on Nov 15 to "set a precedent to make subsequent gay pride parades easier." He told the media that even if he were the only one at the park for the event, he would march round the place holding a placard on Section 377A - a section of the penal code that criminalises gay sex. The event, which was to be the first LGBT protest, eventually morphed into Pink Dot Sg when more individuals hopped aboard.

All Singaporeans and Singapore permanent residents are legally allowed to participate in the event, which has already been approved by the National Parks Board. Permanent residents need only apply for a police permit if they want to organise a demonstration themselves or make a speech at the event. Foreigners are welcome to observe from the sidelines even though under current regulations, they must not take part.

Pink Dot Sg issued a press release on April 17 to announce the event:

All Singaporeans should have the freedom to love, regardless of their sexual orientation. With this belief, a group of like-minded volunteers are encouraging Singaporeans to gather at Hong Lim Park on 16th May 2009, in support for an inclusive Singapore - free of bigotry towards LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) Singaporeans.

Through the event, Pink Dot Sg hopes to show that Singapore can be a better society if it breaks down the barriers to understanding. The event on May 16th will be Singapore's first public showing of support for an LGBT cause. However, it is open to everyone - young and old, straight and gay.

The topic of homosexuality was last broached openly more than a year ago, during Parliamentary debates on Section 377A - the penal code that criminalises homosexual acts. Not much has changed for LGBT Singaporeans since then, many of whom continue to live secret lives, afraid of compromising relationships with their family, friends, colleagues and acquaintances.

Today, many Singaporeans harbour negative impressions about the LGBT community. Pink Dot Sg believes this may be due to a limited understanding amongst the populace. Discordant laws and policies aside, ignorance and fear are potent catalysts for prejudice and bigotry. This goes against the grain of a diverse and inclusive Singapore.

Everyone assumes that all Singaporeans have the freedom to love� The event on May 16th invites all Singaporeans to ponder this basic freedom and what it means for those who live their lives, hiding their true selves from the people they love.

Roy Tan, a member of the Pink Dot Sg organizing committee, says, "As Singaporeans, we have come to accept everyone's right to love across racial, cultural and religious barriers. The only line left to cross is that of sexual orientation. The event is for everyone, regardless of their age, sexual orientation and political beliefs. It is a gathering of people who believe in the freedom to love and to lend their support towards open-mindedness and understanding. No prior registration is required. Just show up and if possible, come dressed in pink!"

Date/time: May 16, Sat, 4.30pm
Venue: Hong Lim Park, Singapore
You can register your attendance on the event's Facebook page: The first-ever official LGBT public gathering in Singapore! For updates, visit Pinkdot.sg


Reader's Comments

1. 2009-04-18 07:06  
Must go!
My mom will also want to participate.
2. 2009-04-18 13:13  

3. 2009-04-18 16:16  
sounds rather Harvey Milk
4. 2009-04-18 16:17  
what a good idea! if the AWARE debacle isn't a wake-up call for you, i don't know what is. if you think that you can sit back, and wait for society to mature and progress, you are only fooling yourselves. there are very active and aggressive groups of people out there who will take every opportunity to stop that from happening. come on, you don't even have to out yourself, just don't be a self-loathing fool and express support for the cause, drag your sensible straight coupled friends and aunties and uncles in to camouflage yourself if you need to, just go!
5. 2009-04-18 16:23  
How about having a little simple charitable drive at the pink dot event to symbolise the idea that GLBT are also contributing to the society and nation?

I suggest the money raised be channelled to one of the mainstream charities such as a old folks home, instead of giving to AfA. This is to prevent others saying that we are giving to our own kind. This is to symbolise that GLBT are also contributing to the benefit of others in society and not just ourselves.
6. 2009-04-18 16:32  
Perhaps this can be done in such a way to break the usual stereotyping of "gay pride" events. The right-wing people would be waiting to use this event to tell others: "See, look at this scantily clad GLBT. If Singapore ever repeals S377A, the society will degenerate. This gay pride event shows us that we are right all this while to urge our government to keep S377A to restrict the influence of GLBT. Even with S377A, these people are already so daring, militant and wild in trying to promote their gay lifestyle. Without S377A around it will be terrible."

7. 2009-04-18 17:25  
if anyone is bringing printed materials of support- we need a print out of PM's 377a's speech about how he welcomes lesbians and gays as singaporeans
8. 2009-04-18 17:36  
Count me in.
9. 2009-04-18 17:44  
hey, guys. tell me if it is just my computer, but when i clicked to join their facebook pledge, multiple windows kept appearing. Be warned. Can the webmaster of pinkdot.sg please look into this?
10. 2009-04-18 17:51  
oh, if anyone is compiling a press release, i know i may be fantasizing here...but just in case...can you make it a point to reframe the argument:

its not homosexuals vs religion:
- look up recent press statements by moderates like anglican church of england's rowan williams, american priest gene robinson,barack obama and tony blair support equal rights for homosexuals, also the signatory nations for the UN anti-gay discriminatory thingy have major religious groups amongst their populations

its not homosexuals vs tradition:
- look up SEAsian scholars work on traditional social customs, an 'alternative' lifestyle was very mainstream in countries like thailand for example or china's emperor's dalliances with male cocubines
- tradition is about how far back you want to draw the line, it is a very weak argument

the point is to marginalize the christian fundamentalists, the way the press marginalize the taliban, and not us.

11. 2009-04-18 18:31  
I'll be there... it's the least I can do for myself as a gay Singaporean man!
12. 2009-04-18 19:52  
Wow, 1200 people signed up already on facebook. Amazing in one day!

I will wear a pink dot Tshirt in UK on that day as a token of moral support.

There seems to be a duplicate group set up as an individual with 255 people as friends - confusing!
13. 2009-04-18 19:56  
I got a feeling those anti-gays ppl are reading and monitoring our activities. Be careful as they may try to frame us up! These ppl will use the law to find faults with us. Be aware ...of the satans...
Comment #14 was deleted by its author
15. 2009-04-18 21:59  
Yes a real lack of democracy and freedome of expression in Singapore..."Foreigners are welcome to observe from the sidelines even though under current regulations, they must not take part."
16. 2009-04-18 22:46  
Got budget to give away pink (helium) balloons on tht day?? Not sure of the cost though..Think will be very interesting.
17. 2009-04-18 23:41  
David29...Never fear ppl who are anti-gay...especially the religious nuts. They live by their religion based on fear and they want to impose that insidious fear on as many people as they can. Shame on them! If they say they are made ' in the image' of (their) God & if GOD=LOVE, then where is the love? If these fundamentalist loonies reflect the fear & hate their God teaches them...then shame on THAT God too!

18. 2009-04-19 00:01  
Give me a PR quick! I don't want to stand on the sideline! Just wonder if foreigner wearing pink on the sideline, does it constitutes to taking part? Well, anyway send my support to everyone taking part. Be strong, be courages, be loved!
19. 2009-04-19 00:24  
20. 2009-04-19 02:31  
@ David29: Mass releasing of balloons is illegal, unless clearance has been granted by CAAS, but is frowned upon by environmentalists. In any case, only 500 balloons are allowed to be released at every 10 minute interval, with permission from CAAS, so as to avoid causing disturbance to flight paths. In any case, i advise against any helium balloons, the last thing we want is people and media using that as a weapon to condemn the event. I recently had to do a crisis comms for a mass release of balloons issue, not easy.

In any case, i fully support this movement, I will be supporting from the sideline, as I am a "foreigner" although i have set up home and "family" here with my doggies haha!
21. 2009-04-19 04:37  
So proud of you. I'll be there!
22. 2009-04-19 07:46  
Heyo guys!!! Wishing u guys all the best. I should not be able to join as I should be working that day, but I will wear pink to office!!!! Hahahahahaha....
23. 2009-04-19 09:33  
24. 2009-04-19 10:44  
good stuff...i hope there will be a massive pink dot viewable from space ....
25. 2009-04-19 11:14  
people please face facts and don't live in your fantasy world. No "normal people" would ever truly like "abnormal people". And if you voice out you're dead.
26. 2009-04-19 12:01  
27. 2009-04-19 14:52  
sounds like a great gathering if you have time, but all the cool kids just want to be great kids and excel in their lives, who cares if anyone is gay? such an event is kind boring and some of us dont want others to define us as GBLT... for others its an industry in itself...

CHICAGO Sexual orientation and sexual labels. Gender crossing and gender bending. These aren't X-rated or adults-only topics but rather subjects that young people talk about as they figure out where they fit in, said a panel of experts at a weekend conference of the Council on Contemporary Families here.
"Youth are saying they don't want to be defined by gender or orientation," Chicago psychologist Braden Berkey told those attending a panel on "Gender in the Next Generation" on the final day of the conference Saturday.

FAMILIES: Life, roles changing as couples seek balance

Berkey is founding director of the Sexual Orientation and Gender Institute at the Center on Halsted, which opened in 2007 to offer support services and programming for the area's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. He talked about the evolution of sexual and gender labels and how young people today are trying to dissolve them. He says the terms created in the early days, such as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender, are giving way to other descriptions, such as polygender or multisex. Young people, he says, reject narrow gender definitions and say they don't want to be defined by their sexuality.

28. 2009-04-19 15:22  
Terrific idea... I want to take part... I have lived in and paid taxes to Singapore for six years and apparently I am not allowed to join in.

Wa lau!

Comment #29 was deleted by its author
Comment #30 was deleted by its author
Comment #31 was deleted by its author
32. 2009-04-19 21:58  
i wanna be part of it! but unfortunately i'll be working... =(
Comment #33 was deleted by its author
34. 2009-04-19 22:23  
I see from facebook that a straight relative of ours has signed up. No prompting from us. Fabulous!

I hope other people of whatever persuasion will also see this as an opportunity to show that many people in Singapore disagree with the fundamentalists, and will join in to make a stand for understanding, acceptance and diversity.

Singaporeans and their supporters abroad can always use their imaginations as to how to join in in some way, as well as those at work on the day in SG itself.

Don't worry about the fakes and fundies who will try all the tricks in the book to dampen enthusiasm. This is the most exciting thing to happen in a long time.
35. 2009-04-19 23:22  
Let's attend it and be merry! :)
36. 2009-04-19 23:31  
I wonder how many police will be there.
Yes its legal ahahahha likee that means anything in singapore
ill be there in case it gets nasty
bring it on
37. 2009-04-20 01:40  
Sounds like a wonderful idea to me. Singaporeans need to do SOMETHING to bring their narrow-minded fellow citizens into the 21 Century.

If you must work on that day, wear pink so your fellow office members will see your support.

Don't we all wish we could live our lives not defined by whom we choose to love. To those claiming they don't want to be defined by their sexuality, I have news for you. If you choose to love someone of your own sex, you are automatically so identified whether you want to be or not. It is only through many years of people choosing to be identified by their sexuality that you have the freedoms you have. And if you don't get off your butts and support LGBT causes and events, you will never be free to NOT be defined by your sexuality!

I wish you all much luck and wish I could be there.
38. 2009-04-20 01:54  
Good points Miltia, except I don't think we get to choose who we love if you're talking about emotion!
39. 2009-04-20 04:04  
"Foreigners are welcome to observe from the sidelines even though under current regulations, they must not take part."

That sounds a Lot like: "Any interested foreign reporters, media personnel, tourists and observers are free to report back internationally on the Official Singaporean government reaction to this gathering, bearing in mind the fact that the vast majority of countries that use Singapore as a financial and business centre and base of operations have Zero problem with homosexuality, and have taken substantial steps to give gay men and lesbian women a lot of equal civil, cultural and social rights - unlike Singapore's government."

Now, I don't live under Singapore's benign Orwellian government, where citizens are equal and free to be and do Anything that they want - as long as the Government approve, and have authorised it (including the Arts!) - but, as always in any and every culture/society, citizens get the Government that they ALLOW, rather than what they may DESERVE.

PinkDot sounds like a vital, and useful way to express an opinion, and say/show that gay men and women ARE normal, and deserve as much rights and equality - BUT no more - as anyone else, as much as the rest of the majority.

If 50,000 gay Singaporeans gathered, would society collapse? No. Would social order be undermined? No. Would it be sending a dangerous message to 'undesirable' elements of society? No.

So. Go. Join in. Participate. Be proactive, rather than reactive. Be normal. Be there. Be represented. Be yourself.

And then just carry on being a normal, ordinary citizen, just like you are for the other 100% of the time that you live and work there... right?
40. 2009-04-20 09:48  
I really hope that gay Singaporeans know (or remember) how it is in the first place possible that we can now organize an event like pinkdot.

It was only last year that it became legal to have an event like this, and then only in Hong Lim Park.

But that only came about because of the stinking government's consession to the SDP's civil disobedience campaign and their insistence that protests - even if pinkdot is not touted as one - ought to be legal anywhere in Singapore.

steveuk, thanks for the idea: I too will be in solidarity wearing the only pink shirt I own.
41. 2009-04-20 09:57  
Just wondering, any effort done on the organiser's part to woo international media and the news wires to cover this story? it should be widely publicised. something as visual as this should be picked up by foreign media, the local media might want to cover but the decision to run the story lies in the govt who owns almost all the major media in Spore.
42. 2009-04-20 15:03  
"people please face facts and don't live in your fantasy world. No "normal people" would ever truly like "abnormal people". And if you voice out you're dead."

Wow! This sounds like a dead threat! Hmmm... Catholic, no wonder. Such a reverse advertisement for your religion, honey. :-)
43. 2009-04-20 15:21  
Post #13 David29 says (Posted : 18 April 2009 19:56) : I got a feeling those anti-gays ppl are reading and monitoring our activities....

Yes, they already are. And the whole world will be watching them. They can run, they CAN hide, they can even mutute...but they will neve run away from their sins. :-)

I hope they all can do this while sleeping well at night.

Comment #44 was deleted by its author
45. 2009-04-20 15:53  
Post #24 Raph says (Posted : 19 April 2009 11:14) :

people please face facts and don't live in your fantasy world. No "normal people" would ever truly like "abnormal people". And if you voice out you're dead.

Raph, what did the Bible say???
"The Lord despises pride; be assured that the proud will be punished." Proverbs 16:5
"Pride goes before destruction; and haughtiness before a fall." Proverbs 16:18

No 'normal' people will ever like 'abnormal' people??
Is that what the ROC has been teaching you all these years? Gosh, I really, really wonder...

Post #37 Lalakroft ... Actually, I DO know Catholics who are very liberal & support PLUs,
you will be surprised to learn. :)
46. 2009-04-20 16:15  
Why not invite the international press and media...let the whole world know what is going on in singapore...its called freedom of speech and expression...wow a new idea...sorry to be so cynical but why not?
47. 2009-04-20 16:23  
Goodluck Singapore. Hope it all turns out well !
Comment #48 was deleted by its author
Comment #49 was deleted by its author
50. 2009-04-20 17:24  
First they came for the Jews
and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for the Communists
and I did not speak out because I was not a Communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists
and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for me...
and there was no one left to speak out for me.

Martin Niemller
German theologian

In his youth he was an anti-Semite and an admirer of Hitler. As Nazism expanded in Germany, however, he saw Nazism for what it was:
it was not just the Jews Hitler sought to exterminate, it was just about anyone who opposes him.
Niemller spoke out, and for his trouble was incarcerated in the Sachsenhausen and Dachau concentration camps from 1937 to 1945, and very nearly executed. He wrote this poem while imprisoned.
51. 2009-04-20 18:15  
Finally, we have a movement to showcase Singapore's minority that has been overlooked, maginalised and feared.

But looking at the number of people who have confirmed, and those "maybe" coming and those confirmed not coming, I think Singapore's gay community is far from ready to make a stand of any kind but I applaud the move and encourage it.

Until we can have the courage accept ourselves as members of Singapore society and speak out, we will never experience acceptance much less equality.

I know Singaporeans are very pragmatic but if you don't take a stand, no one will do it for you. And you deserve S377A and many more laws that will be implemented against you in the future.

52. 2009-04-20 18:35  
Is there a Tshirt available with a pink dot logo on it?
53. 2009-04-20 19:58  
Post 43 Slimfit says:"...But looking at the number of people who have confirmed, and those "maybe" coming and those confirmed not coming, I think Singapore's gay community is far from ready to make a stand of any kind but I applaud the move and encourage it."

1200 people have signed up to that group! I think that's pretty amazing. People may be shy about openly confirming their attendance, but it doesn't mean they wont turn up on the day, or find some way to support it. However many turn up, it's a historic event, which people who do take part in will remember all their lives.

54. 2009-04-20 22:52  
Hope pinkdot turns out to be our Stonewall.
55. 2009-04-21 21:35  
before anything as glamorous like this should start, i think at first singaporeans must have a soul...
56. 2009-04-22 02:15  
590 confirmed and maybes, steadily increasing.

Considering there were just 100 brave souls at the Pink Picnic, this is looking good.
57. 2009-04-23 15:56  
Best wishes. May this be the beginning of something great towards full acceptance of your nation's gay and lesbian citizens and towards fulfilling our human right. Gay rights=sexual rights=human rights. Go Singaporeans!
58. 2009-04-24 17:33  
Yea, PLUS & friends need to come together to show our worthy existence. Read today Straits Times 'Awavre coup'. On one hand they are not prejudice to gay, yet we are condemned to changing their heterosexual society. So, we are the painful lots for what we are as they claimed rather than what they have inflicted on us. If children can be taught to become gay, why cant my heterosexual teachers and parents teach me to be straight?... quoting from Milk.
59. 2009-04-25 04:23  

You're on the way to great changes for the best of the Singaporean society. I can't wait to see the reports about this event.
60. 2009-04-26 17:16  
Can Foreigners go? I'm not PR ...just work here

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