Pink Dot SG

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The LGBT community converging at Hong Lim Park in Singapore for the inaugural Pink Dot SG in 2009

Pink Dot SG is an annual, non-profit, free-for-all event which started in 2009, in support of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community in Singapore. Attendees of Pink Dot events gather to form a 'pink dot' to show support for inclusiveness, diversity and the freedom to love.[1] Aside from the titular formation, Pink Dot events usually also feature concert performances and community booths by organisations supporting the LGBT.

History[edit]

In September 2008, rules governing activities conducted at Singapore's Speakers' Corner at Hong Lim Park were relaxed, allowing demonstrations organised by Singaporeans to be held at the park, providing that all participants are either citizens or permanent residents.[2] This allowed the first Pink Dot SG event to take place at the Speakers' Corner on 16 May 2009. There have been a total of eight events till date. After Pink Dot SG 2009, many organisations around the world have modeled LGBT events to the Pink Dot concept, often borrowing the "Pink Dot" prefix.

The design of the Pink Dot SG mascot "Pinkie", a personification of the pink dot, was provided by graphic designer Soh Ee Shaun.[3][not in citation given]

Events[edit]

Pink Dot SG 2009[edit]

Pink Dot SG 2009 was held on Saturday, 16 May 2009, launching with campaign video "RED + WHITE = PINK". It was Singapore's first public, open-air pro-LGBT event and established the record for the greatest turnout for a gathering at Speakers' Corner in Hong Lim Park since the venue's inception. The event was deemed as a milestone for Singapore's LGBT community.[4]

Local celebrities stood as ambassadors of the event, namely actor Timothy Nga, actress Neo Swee Lin & radio DJ Rosalyn Lee.[5] During the event, two formations of the words 'LOVE' and '4All' were formed by several participants. The event also concluded with the formation of the titular Pink Dot.[6][7]

The pioneer event was given extensive coverage in both international and local media.[7] Media coverage for Pink Dot SG 2009 was garnered locally on The Straits Times, and TODAY newspaper. However, the number of attendees reported by different sources were often inconsistent. Organisers estimated an attendance of 2,500 while local newspaper, the Straits Times, reported a turn-out of 1,000, and TODAY reported "at least 500". Internationally, the event was covered by the BBC[6] and the New York Times[8] with reports being syndicated to various publications around the world through wire services Associated Press,[9] and Agence France-Presse.[10]

Pink Dot SG 2010[edit]

Pink Dot SG 2010 was held on Saturday, 15 May at the Speakers' Corner in Hong Lim Park. This was the first year that the Pink Dot event ran under a campaign theme; "Focusing on Our Families".[11] Pink Dot 2010 garnered a record turnout of 4,000 participants who gathered to form a pink dot in the park.

The event received coverage by local media, including video coverage by Channel News Asia and The Sunday Times carrying an article bearing a photograph of the event.[12] The event also received international coverage by BBC, Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse.[13]

Pink Dot SG 2010's ambassadors were local celebrities, namely actor Adrian Pang, actress Tan Kheng Hua & DJ Bigkid.[14]

Pink Dot SG 2011[edit]

Pink Dot SG 2011 was held on Saturday, 18 June at the Speakers' Corner in Hong Lim Park with a new record of more than 10,000 participants. The 2011 event featured a theme song, "I Want To Hold Your Hand" by the Beatles and campaign video by Boo Jun Feng.[15]

Pink Dot SG 2011 was the first time the event series had an multinational company as a corporate sponsor - Google which would continue to lend its support in subsequent years. Local musical cabaret trio, the Dim Sum Dollies also made an appearance as the official ambassadors of the event.[16]

Pink Dot SG 2011 was covered widely by local and international mainstream media.[17] An aerial shot of Pink Dot SG was also featured on xinmsn news for June's "2011 Year in Pictures".[18] This was also the first time Pink Dot SG was featured in "Time Out Singapore" with a full article devoted to it. The event was also promoted in an article on CNNGo.[19]

The success of the 2011 event has since spurred the international renditions of Pink Dot in locations like Utah, New York, Hong Kong, Anchorage and Koahsiung.

Pink Dot SG 2012[edit]

Pink Dot 2012 flew under the campaign "Someday"[20] and was held on Saturday, 30 June at the Speakers' Corner in Hong Lim Park. The 2011 rendition was the first night Pink Dot where 15,000 participants formed a glowing pink dot with mobile phones, torches and flashlights.[21] The theme song for the event was"True Colors".[22]

Pink Dot SG 2012 saw Barclays as an official corporate supporter along with returning Google.[23][24] Celebrity ambassadors for the event were former actress Sharon Au, actor Lim Yu-Beng as well as actor-comedian drag queen Kumar.[25]

Pink Dot SG 2012 was even more widely reported in the mainstream media [26][27][28][29] and also very widely covered by international media agencies like The Wall Street Journal,[30] Taiwan's lihpao,[31] Thailand's PBS,[32] and Egypt's bikyamasr.[33] Notably before the event, singer Jason Mraz, who was then delivering a performance on 29 June in Singapore,[34] made a shout out in a video support of Pink Dot 2012.

The event inspired the start-up of Pink Dot Okinawa.

Pink Dot SG 2013[edit]

Pink Dot 2013 was held on the night of Saturday, 29 June at the Speakers' Corner in Hong Lim Park. The event marked its fifth year by seeking to recognise the efforts of Singapore's LGBT community by running under campaign 'Home'; title of a local national day song and doubling as the event's theme song. The campaign featured a video depicting three individual true life experiences directed by local filmmaker Boo Junfeng.[35][36] Like the previous year, the event highlighted the formation of a Pink Dot with pink lights. Pink Dot organisers claim a record turnout of 21,000, 6,000 more participants than the previous year. The record breaking event was notably the largest ever civil-society gathering in the country.[37] Hence, to accommodate large number of participants, a second ‘satellite’ focal point was created to channel traffic away from highly concentration areas. Prior to the formation of Pink Dot, participants were treated to a range of activities by more than 20 community groups and partners.[38]

Pink Dot SG 2013's list of corporate contributors for event has grown greatly to include global financial firm J.P. Morgan, local hotel PARKROYAL on Pickering, contact lens specialist CooperVision and audio branding agency The Gunnery, in addition to returning giants Google and international banking group Barclays.[39] Local actress Michelle Chia, theatre company W!LD RICE artistic director Ivan Heng and sportcaster Mark Richmond are the ambassadors of PinkDot SG 2013.[40][41]

Pink Dot continued to receive wider media coverage by local and international media. These included Indonesia based Asia Calling,[42] The Economist,[37] BBC,[43] The Guardian[44] and Reuters.[45] The event was also featured in YouTube 's Proud to Love' video which features of collection of videos supporting the LGBT community, equal rights and marriage equality.[46] Additionally, before the event, band Fun made a shout out in a video support of Pink Dot 2013.

Pink Dot SG 2014[edit]

Pink Dot SG 2014 was held on the night of Saturday, 28 June at the Speaker's Corner with a new record turnout of 26,000. The event's theme "For Family, For Friends, For Love", highlighted the LGBT community's contributions to society and its theme song was "We Are Family".[47] In addition to the traditional pink dot formation with torches, 2014's event also included a blue heart formation within the "pink dot". Pink Dot SG 2014 additionally featured a "Community Voices" segment, where speakers were invited from Singapore's LGBT community and straight allies to share their stories.[48]

Ambassadors of the event included Broadway performer Sebastian Tan, actor Brendon Fernandez and for a first time a politician; Nominated Member of Parliament Janice Koh.[47] Also in support for the event is Taiwan-based Singaporean Pop Idol Stefanie Sun who did so in a twenty-second video.[49] Local YouTube Stars Tree Potatoes also made a shout out in a video. Pink Dot SG 2014 also saw energy company giant BP and multinational banking firm Goldman Sachs joining a growing list of corporate sponsors[50] in support of the LGBT event.

Notably, Pink Dot SG 2014 was the first year the event drew strong flak from Singapore's Muslim and Christian communities. These religious communities voiced disagreement with the event and counter-demonstrated against the Pink Dot event in a "WearWhite" event where participants dress in white apparel. In response, foreseeing possible unruly behaviour, organisers for a first time deployed security personnel at the event.[51] As a result, local media gave heavy coverage of parties for and against Pink Dot and the event itself was widely reported by both local and foreign media and made full-page articles on many local newspapers.[52][53][54][55][56][57][58]

Pink Dot SG 2015[edit]

Pink Dot SG 2015 was held on the night of 13 June at the Speaker's Corner, Hong Lim Park. The date of the event was chosen to prevent a clash with the Islamic month of Ramadan. The event runs under campaign title "Where Love Lives" led by a campaign video directed by local filmmaker Boo Junfeng. The event also coincides with the launch of a pioneering LGBT support network for major local universities.[59]

The celebrity ambassadors for Pink Dot SG 2015 include local actor Patricia Mok, Campus SuperStar winner Daren Tan and local YouTube celebrities Munah Bagharib and Hirzi Zulkiflie.[60] However, it was noted that Munah did not turn up for the event for unknown reasons. Veteran actor Patricia Mok mentioned that she seeks to reach out towards the local older population for support for the LGBT.[61] The list of corporate sponsors have also grown to include three new corporate sponsors; social network Twitter, movie exhibitor Cathay Organisation and financial news company Bloomberg[62] in addition to Google, JP Morgan, Barclay, Goldman Sachs and The Gunnery. However, PARKROYAL hotel on Pickering which has sponsored previous events has discontinued its sponsorship deciding to 'channelling resources to support other equally meaningful causes'.[59] Contact Lens specialist, CooperVision, has also not continued support for Pink Dot SG.

Even greater so than in 2014, Pink Dot SG 2015 has drawn voices from both anti-LGBT and pro-LGBT groups. Both sides have been given wide coverage on local mainstream media.[63][64][65][66]

Pink Dot SG 2016[edit]

Pink Dot SG 2016 was held on 4 June at the Speaker's Corner in Hong Lim Park at 3pm.

International Events[edit]

After the success of Pink Dot SG 2011, many organisations and individuals around the world were inspired to organise pink dot events. Events of varying attendances have been organised in Hong Kong, Montreal, Toronto, New York, Okinawa and Utah. Smaller gatherings were also organised in locations like Anchorage, London, Malaysia and Taiwan. Common in all events was the highlight formation of a pink dot.

Pink Dot Anchorage[edit]

As an Alaska PrideFest event, Pink Dot Anchorage organised a gathering on 18 June 2011 at the Anchorage Town Square where around 100 participants turned up. The participants formed a heart shaped formation. [67]

Pink Dot Hong Kong[edit]

2011[edit]

On 24 June 2011, Hong Kong's Pink Alliance organised a gathering at Psychic Jack Lounge located in Central Hong Kong.[68]

2014[edit]

Inspired by Pink Dot Singapore, Pink Dot HK 2014 was held on 15 June 2014 in Tamar Park, co-organized by LGBT groups BigLove Alliance and Pink Alliance running under the theme "We are Family: The Freedom to Love". The event included an outdoor picnic and funfair, as well as a closing concert featuring performers like Denise Ho and Anthony Wong.[69] The event was widely covered by local media like the Oriental Daily News[70]

Before the event, the Bank of America Tower was decorated in pink to publicise the event.[71]

The turnout of the event was an estimated 12,000 people.

2015[edit]

Pink Dot Hong Kong 2015 was held on 20 September 2015, once again at Tamar Park in front of the Central Government Complex. Notable attendees included actor Gregory Wong, singer Anthony Wong, singer Denise Ho, United States Consul General Clifford Hart, and Chairman of the Equal Opportunities Commission Dr. York Chow.[72]

The turnout was estimated at more than 15,000.[72]

Pink Dot London[edit]

On 18 June 2011, Singaporeans in London organised a picnic at Hyde Park, London in conjunction with the Pink Dot event occur in Singapore that day.

Pink Dot MTL[edit]

Pink Dot MTL is a movement inspired by the Singapore event which believes that love is best built on a foundation of trust and honesty, not fear and shame. The group hopes to bring LGBT individuals in Montreal closer to their families and friends where change for the better happens through conversations, not cover-ups and covert lives.[73][74]

On 18 Aug 2012, a Pink Dot event was organised where nearly 300 attendees gathered at Place Émilie-Gamelin, Montreal, Quebec. A competition was organised where LGBT individuals were invited to submit their personal coming out stories. The top three writers were sent an invitiation to the event and their stories were read out in front of other participants.[75]

On 17 Aug 2013, a Pink Dot event was held at Place Émilie-Gamelin. The event had a one-page feature on local gay magazine Fugues.[76][77]

On 16 August 2014, a first-ever night Pink Dot event was held at Place Émilie-Gamelin. The event began at 11pm and featured glowsticks.

Pink Dot NY[edit]

A Pink Dot picnic was held on 7 June 2011, on 6 October 2012 and on 22 June 2013 in Central Park, New York. Around 30 participants turned up for each event. Pink Dot NY has not continued in subsequent years.

Pink Dot OK[edit]

2013[edit]

Pink Dot Okinawa was inspired by Singapore's Pink Dot. The event is the island's first LGBT event and was held on 14 July 2013 with a turnout of 800 people. The event was held in a park in Naha city, Okinawa for its large tourist crowd and diverse culture.[78] Pink Dot OK 2013 features pre-night club events,[79] a pre-event beach party and a LGBT book fair[80] and an after-party. The event was covered by local media like the Okinawa Times and Ryukyu Shimpo.

The mascot of the event is Pinkmaaru, a winking cartoon animal with the event's name, "Pink Dot OK".[81]

2014, 2015 & 2016[edit]

Pink Dot OK 2014 was held on 20 June 2014 in Naha city with an estimated turn out of a crowd of 12,000. Star Trek Actor George Takei made a shout out to this year's event.

Pink Dot OK 2015 was held on 19 July at Tembusu Square on Kokusai street in Naha city.

Pink Dot OK 2016 is scheduled to be held on 17 July in Naha city.

Pink Dot Penang[edit]

Pink Dot Penang was started in year 2011 and it has received very well responses from the local LGBTIQ community. A group called "Penang Freedom to Love" was formed after the event to continued spreading the idea of "love no boundaries". In 2014, Pink Dot event was planned to be held in one of the hotel in Penang, Malaysia on 29 March 2014 by Penang Freedom to Love, SUARAM and some other local supporting group. Flying under the slogan "Sit in solidarity in the day, Dance together in the night", Pink Dot Penang was meant to be a two-part event including a workshop in the day and a party in the night at the 1926 heritage hotel.

The event was eventually cancelled on 16 March due to religious pressure by Perkasa and other Muslim activists making police reports on the event being a "sex festival"[82]

Pink Dot TO[edit]

On 21 May 2016, ACAS (Asian Community AIDS Services) and Chinese Canadian National Council Toronto Chapter organised Pink Dot TO in Toronto at Market 707 in support for LGBT Asians in Canada. The event featured speeches, a march and performances.

Pink Dot TW[edit]

2011[edit]

A Pink Dot gathering was organised by the Taiwan Adolescent Association on Sexualities on 18 June 2011 in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. Participants gathered at the Kaohsiung Cultural Central.

2015[edit]

Pink Dot TW 2015 was held on May 16, 17, and 30, at Kaohsiung Aozihdi Park, National Cheng Kung University, and HuaShan Grand Green, respectively. Originally planned to be held on 20 May 2015, the HuaShan event was postponed in light of bad weather. The event runs on the slogan "Let's get closer, let the picnic be pinker" with a campaign video of the same title.

Pink Dot Utah[edit]

Pink Dot Utah is a campaign inspired by the Singapore event and flies under the theme "Support, Love, Courage" aiming to engender an appreciation of Utah's diversity – regardless of race, language, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. The campaign encourages individuals of the LGBT community to share their life stories which are then featured on the campaign website. It is organised by the Support Love Courage Council.[83]

On 20 December 2013, District Judge Robert J. Shelby struck down the same-sex marriage ban as unconstitutional rendering same-sex marriage legal US-wide.[84]

2011[edit]

Pink Dot Utah 2011 was held on National Coming Out Day, 11 October 2011, at the Spring Mobile Ball Park in Salt Lake City, Utah. More than 3000 participants showed up for the inaugural Pink Dot event.[83] Several community organisations and businesses were in attendance at the event, including representatives from First Baptist Church and Utah's Latino community.

Pink Dot Utah organisers invited Emmy award winning composer, Kurt Bestor and Anchor of Fox's Live at Five and News at Nine Newscasts co-host, Hope Woodside as celebrity ambassadors of the event.[85] The event was also covered by local media The Salt Lake Tribune.[86]

2012[edit]

A Pink Dot event was held on 22 September 2012 in Jordan Park, Salt Lake City, Utah. A "pinkdot Baby" contest was also held in the duration of the campaign.[87] Pink Dot Utah 2012 also featured performances by celebrities and speeches by various speakers. Pink Dot Utah 2012 was supported by Mormons Building Bridges which encourage hetereosexual Latter-day Saints to offer love and support to their LGBT brothers and sisters.[88] The event was given mentioned by popular LGBT blogsite JoeMyGod.com.[89]

Another Pink Dot event, Pink Dot St. George, was also held in Utah on 3 November 2012 in Vernon Worthen Park, Saint George, Utah,[90] featuring speeches by three speakers.[91] The programme received local media coverage by Dixie Sun News.[92]

Reaction, criticism and controversy[edit]

Counter-campaigns by Religious groups[edit]

Since 2014, Pink Dot drew strong flak from Muslim and Christian religious groups in Singapore. One response to the event, FamFest, or Red Dot Family Movement, was organised by LoveSingapore, a network of Singaporean churches. FamFest was initially planned to be held on the same day as Pink Dot 2014 at the Padang. However, the event was cancelled upon rejection of its application by the Ministry of Social and Family Development which which deemed the location unsuitable. FamFest continued as a virtual rally on Facebook.

In a separate response to the appearance of a Muslim woman in the Pink Dot SG 2014 campaign video, Islamic religious teacher Ustaz Noor Deros called for a Wear White campaign in defense of traditional Islamic values. The event was held in conjunction with the start of the Muslim month of Ramadan, the day after Pink Dot SG 2014. Notably, an evening prayer marking the fasting month coincides with Pink Dot SG 2014 event. Faith Community Baptist Church and the LoveSingapore network of churches have also called on their members to join local Muslims in the campaign to dress in white.[93] The Wear White campaign saw Muslim mosque goers and two churches wearing white in the days following the event.

In light of possible unrest, security personnel were deployed at the event for crowd management purposes.[51] However, the event proceeded without interference with Wear White campaign organisers informing supporters to distance from the Pink Dot gathering and FCBC announcing that its members did not intend to picket the event.[53] Since 2014, Pink Dot in the subsequent years has seen similar opposition from the Wear White campaign.

Other Religious groups and Pink Dot 2014[edit]

Other religious groups in Singapore as a result of the series of reactions to Pink Dot SG 2014 have announced or reinforced their stand on LGBT issues.

On behalf of the Muslim community, the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (MUIS) has earlier advised Muslims not to be confrontational towards the LGBT community. It indicated that it does not approve of the "pervasiveness" of the LGBT lifestyle but cautioned against mosques being involved in the Pink Dot and Wear White initiatives. Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs, Mr Yaacob Ibrahim has also issued a statement addressing that Singaporeans who wanted to express support for a cause or lifestyle choice should express it in a way that does not divide the community. He emphasised on tolerance and the need "to keep the social fabric as tight as possible".[94]

Also in response, The National Council of Churches of Singapore (NCCS) has issued a statement:

The Council also wishes to state that while it does not condone homosexual or bi-sexual practices, it also does not condemn those who are struggling with their gender identity and sexual orientation.[95]

On behalf of the Catholic Church, Archbishop William Goh has also reiterated that:

This kind of lifestyle should not be promoted by Catholics as it is detrimental to society, is not helpful to integral human development and contrary to Christian values. Thus, whilst the Church urges compassion, acceptance, patient understanding and mutual respect for these individuals, she believes that there are ways to ensure justice and the protection of their dignity without the risk of endangering the future of the marriage institution, family and society[96]

Archbishop William Goh later release a second statement apologising for any insensitivity in his previous statement and added that while the Church does not disapprove of non-sexual same-sex relationships, it is by Catholic teaching that marriage is between a man and a woman and that sex before marriage is not allowed.[97]

Corporate Sponsorship[edit]

Pink Dot SG events have featured a growing number of corporate sponsors with succeeding events. The involvement of corporate organisations in the local LGBT scene have faced criticised by various pro-family groups.

In 2015, furniture retailer Ikea, upon receiving feedback from pro-LGBT groups, has announced a review of its support for a magic show staged by a pastor known for his views against homosexuality. The pastor is also responsible for previous anti-Pink Dot movements and Ikea is known globally to be a supporter of the LGBT community.[98][99] However, after the review, Ikea Singapore decided to continue support for the magic show. This decision has drawn flak from pro-LGBT groups including the organisers of Pink Dot[100] and support from pro-family organisations.[101]

Threats of Violence Against Community[edit]

In 2016, Bryan Lim Sian Yang, a member of the facebook group "We Are Against Pinkdot In Singapore" threatened to "open fire" on the community.

"I am a Singaporean citizen. I am a NSman, I am a father. And I swore to protect my nation. Give me the permission to open fire. I would like to see these £@€$^*s die for their causes".

The post was widely shared on social media and attracted much attention due to the recent 2016 Orlando nightclub shooting. Lim claimed his post was taken out of context and was meant to be figurative.[102] The authorities investigated Lim following police reports made about the post, and he was subsequently charged. If convicted, Lim could be sentenced to up to 5 years in jail and/or fined.[103]

Impact[edit]

International human rights[edit]

Pink Dot SG was deemed significant enough to be included in the US Department of State's human rights reports for 2009, released on 11 March 2010:[104]

On May 16, a rally in support of "the freedom of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons in Singapore to love" took place at Speakers Corner. Participants held pink umbrellas aloft and arranged themselves to form a large pink dot when seen from nearby high‐rise buildings. The rally took place without disturbance.

Pink Dot SG was also featured in the 2011 documentary film Courage Unfolds, by the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission and the Lesbian Activism Project of the Philippines. The documentary film highlights the issues faced by LGBT people in Asia.[105]

Google's LGBT campaign[edit]

Google is notably the first Pink Dot corporate sponsor and has supported the event since 2011. Google Singapore has thus launched the "Legalize Love" 2012 campaign seeking to promote a supportive culture for LGBT people in and outside the workplace.[106] In Google Maps, Google has also presented a 360-degree panorama of Hong Lim Park featuring Pink Dot 2013 during both the day and night.

Section 377A of the Penal Code of Singapore[edit]

In 2012, Tan Eng Hong challenged the constitutionality of section 377A of the Penal Code which criminalizes sex between mutually consenting men, before the courts.[107] The challenge garnered much public debate[108] and, in response, Pink Dot SG made the following statement:

WE RECOGNISE that the matter has been taken to the court, and we should let the law take its course. We understand the need to respect the sanctity of the Judiciary, and not undertake acts seen to pressure it, or prejudice a case that stands before it.

WE ACKNOWLEDGE that a society as pluralistic and diverse as ours will have a multitude of viewpoints, which all of us have to respect and cherish, as it is this spectrum of opinions, beliefs and ideas that make Singapore strong, not the differences that seek to divide us from being truly, one united people.[109]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]