SINGAPORE, May 17 — As part of their campaign this year, organisers of the annual Pink Dot event are going to lean on social media to play a key role in making a statement.
They are calling on people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) in Singapore to take to social media to share their experiences of discrimination that they face at work, at school or at home, and to also share them with their families, friends and colleagues.
At the media launch of the 11th edition of Pink Dot Singapore on Wednesday (May 15), spokespersons for the campaign — held yearly to support the LGBTQ community — said that the focus of this year’s rally is to end discrimination.
When asked by reporters whether this is a response to government officials who said that LGBT individuals in Singapore do not face discrimination, one of its spokespersons Clement Tan said: “It’s a reaction to that view that is being held by a few (government officials), but also (by) segments of society as well.
“There are going to be pockets of people who (hold such views), because they are misinformed or ignorant, or because they (have not caught up) on the issues, or they haven’t heard from people around them.”
In September last year, Education Minister Ong Ye Kung said that there is no discrimination against the LGBTQ community “at work, housing (and) education” in Singapore.
In a media release on Wednesday, another spokesperson for the movement, Paerin Choa, said that many people, including political leaders, “remain ignorant” to the discrimination and prejudice that LGBTQ people face.
“Discrimination happens every day, in our homes, in our schools and at our workplaces. Many in our society remain ignorant to the hurt they are causing their LGBTQ friends and family members.
“It is this ignorance that we seek to address, and we hope our political leaders will not continue to ignore the discrimination that their LGBTQ citizens face every day,” Choa said.
The Pink Dot event this year will be held on June 29 at Hong Lim Park.
It will see 60 Singapore-based companies as corporate sponsors.
They include those in the food industry such as 128 Durian, Bollywood Veggies and Aloha Poke, which is sponsoring this year’s campaign for the third time.
The sponsorship dollars will go towards funding the costs in organising the event, such as putting up marketing materials, hiring security officers and setting up barricades.
John Chen, co-founder of Aloha Poke, a Christian, said that he is being questioned “all the time” from his fellow church members on his decision to sponsor Pink Dot.
When laws were changed in 2016 preventing foreign companies from sponsoring the event, Chen said he felt he had to step forward given that he was in a position to offer support.
“I have relatives who are gay, very close friends who are gay. I don’t think they should be discriminated against. The fact that Pink Dot could not carry on because foreign companies were not allowed to sponsor like they were before, I felt that I had to do my part,” he said.
Chen said he recognised that doing so would risk his business being boycotted by conservative members of Singapore’s society, but it is a risk he is willing to take as he believes that he is “on the right side”.
When asked how his decision to sponsor interferes with his beliefs as a Christian, Chen said: “There is no change to my faith. I am a strong believer in God, I am still very strong with my faith We are all God’s children regardless of who we choose to love. We are not in a position to judge, only God judges.”
At the media launch, four ambassadors for this year’s Pink Dot campaign were also revealed.
They are: Film and television actor Tosh Zhang, actor and director Beatrice Chia-Richmond, Internet personality Preeti Nair and her brother Subhas Nair, who is a rapper.
Chia-Richmond said that as a storyteller often tasked with telling “the Singapore story”, inclusivity — be it of the old, young or those with special needs — has been the message that has been pounded home over the last few years.
Yet “an invisible blanket” would mysteriously rise when it comes to including LGBT individuals in the Singapore story, she added.
Zhang said of this role he took up: “I feel that we should measure a person by... their character, rather than their race, their religion, their sexual orientation and other identity.” — TODAY