Pink Dot 2009

Singapore gays in first public rally

Halfway across the world, as police moved in to break up a gay rights protest in Russia, another country known for being equally as restrictive on liberal ideals was holding its first gay rally undisturbed.

Some 2,500 pink-attired supporters of gay rights gathered in a park in Singapore on Saturday, to form a pink dot, which was photographed from a nearby building. The organisers of the event, pinkdot.sg, say the event was held to commemorate love in all forms and between people of every orientation. It came after Singapore loosened law on public gatherings last year. Currently any gathering can be held that does not touch on topics of race or religion. Multi-racial Singapore last saw race riots in the late 1960s.

The city-state still has a ban on homosexual sex that has been in force since its colonial days under the British even though many countries in the region, and the UK itself, have repealed the law. According to Jack Soh of pinkdot.sg, there was no overt political message being sent to the government. "It was not a protest or a political rally. The event was for Singaporeans in general - to affirm our respect for diversity and the freedom to love, regardless of sexual orientation. "We recognise that many Singaporeans are conservative... so we planned an inclusive event that would reach all Singaporeans, straight and gay," Mr Soh says.

Pink Dot SG 2009

Pink Dot SG 2009 was held on 16 May, launched with a campaign video titled "RED + WHITE = PINK". It was Singapore's first public, open-air, pro-LGBT event and established the record at the time for the greatest turnout for a gathering at Speakers' Corner in Hong Lim Park since the venue's inception. The event was deemed a milestone for Singapore's LGBT community.[7]

Ambassadors of the event were local celebrities: actor Timothy Nga, actress Neo Swee Lin and radio DJ Rosalyn Lee.[8] During the event, formations of the words "LOVE" and "4All" were created by participants. The event concluded with the formation of the titular Pink Dot.[9]

The pioneer Pink Dot SG event was given extensive coverage in both international and local media.[9] Locally, The Straits Times and TODAY newspapers covered the event. However, reports regarding the number of attendees were inconsistent. Organisers estimated an attendance of 2,500, while The Straits Times reported a turnout of 1,000, and TODAY reported "at least 500". Internationally, the event was covered by the BBC[9] and the New York Times, with reports syndicated to publications around the world through wire services the Associated Press[10] and Agence France-Presse.