It was a record turnout for Singapore's Pink Dot rally on Saturday night as an estimated 21,000 people turned Speakers' Corner in Hong Lim Park – the only venue in Singapore where demonstrations of any kind are allowed in Singapore – into a glowing sea of pink.
The three-hour event featured a concert by Singaporean artists, speeches by the three Pink Dot ambassadors – popular TV host and actress Michelle Chia, well-known sports commentator Mark Richmond, and acclaimed theatre director and Wild Rice Artistic Director Ivan Heng – and culminated in a giant pink dot formation after dusk with the crowd holding pink LED lights. During the dot formation, prominent Singaporean pop icon and singer-songwriter Dick Lee made a surprise appearance to lead the crowd in singing Home, a song he wrote and familiar to many Singaporeans as a National Day song and also the theme of the event this year.
From left: Ivan Heng, Dick Lee, Michelle Chia and Mark Richmond.
All photos courtesy of Pink Dot. For more visit their Facebook page.
The Pink Dot Community Tent featured stalls by some 20 community groups and partners including groups such as Pelangi Pride Centre, OogaChaga, Singapore Transgender Alliance and Young Out Here, as well as food and drink contributors Nando's and ShareTea.
Held for the fifth consecutive year since 2009, the event was attended by members of the LGBT community as well as family members, friends and other allies to show their support for the "Freedom to Love" regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity. Ironically the rally was held across the street from the office of the Attorney-General's Chambers which is currently defending the constitutionality of Section 377A, Singapore's colonial era anti-gay law, which is being challenged in court by three gay men in two separate cases.
In April, the High Court rejected a petition to repeal the law in the first of the two cases that was heard. While the government said that it would not actively enforce the law, officials maintain that the law must be retained because most Singaporeans are still conservative and do not accept homosexuality.
Pink Dot's exponential growth from 2,500 people in its first year to its record numbers yesterday must surely attest to the increasing social acceptance of LGBT people in the city-state.
Ivan Heng said, “The growing numbers at Pink Dot every year sends a strong signal that Singaporeans want a kinder and more inclusive society, a Singapore we can truly call home.”
Pink Dot spokesperson Paerin Choa said in a statement: “Every year, we are left humbled by the turn-out of participants, which has always surpassed expectations. This is a strong indication of the increasingly widespread support of Singapore’s LGBT community, and a growing realisation among all Singaporeans, straight or LGBT, that everyone has a place and a part to play in this place called ‘Home’.
Efforts by the organisers to hold the event outside of Hong Lim Park was unsuccessful as the Urban Redevelopment Authority rejected their application to use the Marina Bay Promontory citing the Speaker's Corner as being a more appropriate space for the event. The Singapore Police had also rejected the organisers' application for partial road closure at the North Canal Road, citing potential traffic disruption as the reason.
Pink Dot 2013 is support by six corporate contributors – the highest number as yet, with prior contributors Google and Barclays now joined by global financial firm J.P. Morgan, local hotel Park Royal on Pickering, contact lens company CooperVision and audio branding agency The Gunnery.
Pink Dot's post event statement noted, "This is the strongest indication yet of Corporate Singapore’s growing understanding of the importance of being inclusive."
Ambassador Mark Richmond said: “As a parent, I want my son to grow up learning to accept and appreciate this unique and brilliant diversity we often take for granted here in Singapore”. “Children do not look at this world with prejudice and discrimination. Why do we as parents choose to colour their world with the discrimination we are exposed to? I believe that love is universal and nobody should be denied that right, which is why I wholeheartedly support Pink Dot and what it stands for,” he added.
Fridae is proud to be a Founding Supporter of Pink Dot since 2009.