Singapore

Pink Dot banner at Cineleisure to stay despite advertising watchdog's call to remove tagline

Pink Dot banner at Cineleisure to stay despite advertising watchdog's call to remove tagline
The Advertising Standards Authority of Singapore has asked mall manager Cathay Organisation Holdings to remove the line, ‘Supporting the freedom to love’, from the banner which has been put up since May 31 on an escalator in the building. Photo: Najeer Yusof/TODAY
Published: 9:50 PM, June 9, 2017
Updated: 9:59 PM, June 9, 2017

SINGAPORE — Despite calls from the advertising watchdog to remove a tagline from a Pink Dot advertisement at Cathay Cineleisure, the banner will remain intact for now while the event organisers seek a “frank discussion” with the regulators on the matter.

The Advertising Standards Authority of Singapore (ASAS) has asked the mall manager Cathay Organisation Holdings to remove the line, ‘Supporting the freedom to love’, from the banner which has been put up since May 31 on an escalator in the building. The line “may affect public sensitivities due to the issues at hand”, ASAS said on Friday (Jun 9) in response to TODAY’s queries.

However, a Cathay spokesperson said that it was “not in the position to decide on the removal of the statement”, given that the advertisement belongs to Pink Dot. Nevertheless, it has relayed ASAS’ comments to the event organisers, the spokeperson said.

TODAY understands that there has been no direct communication between ASAS and the event organisers so far, and there is no indication that they would accede to ASAS’ request. Nevertheless, a Pink Dot spokesperson said: “We are open to speaking to ASAS and invite them to a frank discussion on this.”

Adding that Pink Dot’s message was “in line with the shared values of all Singaporeans that place the family as the basic unit of society”, the spokesperson said: “Pink Dot, exemplified by our tagline ‘supporting the Freedom to Love’, has never detracted from its message of inclusion and diversity, of embracing and welcoming everyone regardless of their race, language, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity.”

The banner had drawn complaints from a Facebook group which is opposed to the annual rally held in support of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

Nevertheless, ASAS said its council noted that Pink Dot’s advertisement “technically does not breach the general principle on ‘Family Values’ in the Singapore Code of Advertising Practice”, which states - among other guidelines - that advertisements should not “downplay the importance of the family as a unit and foundation of society”. The watchdog noted that the promotion of Pink Dot was “permissible as long as the organisers have obtained the necessary permit to hold it”. “Hence, advertisements that publicise details of the event, such as the date and the location, are acceptable,” it said. Apart from the tagline, “the rest of the advertisement may otherwise remain”, it added.

The banner features the event’s ambassadors — actor Ebi Shankara, singer Nathan Hartono and national Paralympian Theresa Goh — alongside the date, time and location of this year’s event, which will be held on July 1 at Hong Lim Park. The tagline in question appears below the words “PinkDot2017” in the centre of the advertisement.

The Pink Dot spokesperson reiterated that it could not see “how a tagline calling for inclusion and love can... be seen as undermining the concept of family or disrespecting the individual”.

“We cannot help but wonder if the Council’s request arose out of complaints by a small group of people against Pink Dot who vociferously support the discrimination of Singapore’s LGBT community,” the spokesperson added. “We are confident Singaporeans are able to discern our message of inclusion, diversity and love from one that seeks to divide us because of differences.”

Cathay had previously stood by the advertisement, saying that as an entertainment company, it has “always believed in an all-inclusive society where there is a place for everyone to call home”.

On Friday, the Cathay spokesperson said: “Since making the statement, Cathay has received, and is grateful for the tremendous outpouring of positive support from the public through emails and social media,” the spokesperson said. “We hope that this positivity can be felt by all, and wish for greater acceptance and understanding amongst fellow Singaporeans.”