Singapore

‘Traditional values’ wear white campaign returning on Pink Dot weekend

‘Traditional values’ wear white campaign returning on Pink Dot weekend
Thousands of worshippers wearing white at a Faith Community Baptist Church service in 2014. TODAY file photo
Published: 9:25 PM, May 23, 2016
Updated: 9:33 AM, May 24, 2016

SINGAPORE — A campaign urging the public to wear white to promote traditional family values will be held again — this time led by Christian pastor Lawrence Khong — to coincide with the annual Pink Dot rally championing the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community next month.

The campaign was first held two years ago by Islamic religious teacher Noor Deros under the name Wearwhite, but Mr Noor said the movement has since moved on to focus on educational programmes, and has no plans to carry out the campaign this year.

Mr Khong’s iteration of the campaign is dubbed We.Wear.White, and calls on the public to wear white on June 4 and 5 as a “pro-family, pro-Government, pro-Singapore message”. 

It comes as the Pink Dot rally, to be held at Hong Lim Park on June 4, is set to introduce a new format this year — allowing local participants to hold up placards instead of the customary pink torchlights, a move organisers said was aimed at letting people “have a say”. 

The rally saw attendance grow to a record 28,000 people last year.

Mr Khong, chairman of LoveSingapore, a 100-strong network of Christian churches, said on the LoveSingapore Facebook page on May 19 that the campaign hopes to show that the church’s stance on heterosexual marriage and the “natural family” is in keeping with the social norms of “Singapore’s conservative majority”.

“It is a message to LGBT activists that there is a conservative majority in Singapore who will push back and will not allow them to promote their homosexual lifestyle and liberal ideologies that openly and outrightly contradict our laws, our Government’s stated policies, our national core values, and the conservative majority’s views on public morality, marriage and family,” said Mr Khong, who is also senior pastor at Faith Community Baptist Church. 

The call was open to all Singaporeans regardless of race, language or religion, as long as they supported “pro-natural family values”, he added. 

Mr Khong has regularly spoken out against homosexuality, and had also thrown his support behind the Wearwhite campaign in 2014, igniting vigorous public debate and prompting other religious organisations to interject, while Pink Dot organisers deployed additional security in light of the public opposition.

The National Council of Churches of Singapore said then that while it does not condone homosexual or bisexual practices, it also does not condemn those who are struggling with their gender identity and sexual orientation. 

The Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis) called for a non-confrontational approach and said that programmes conducted in mosques should not be seen as a movement to oppose members of the LGBT community.

When contacted on Monday (May 23), Mr Noor expressed support for LoveSingapore’s call, but said Wearwhite’s focus now is on “directed Islamic educational programmes” for youth. 

“We decided that real education in contrast to sloganeering and campaigning is the key to an effective and long-term change,” he said.

Last year, LoveSingapore also called on church members to wear white to weekend services on the Pink Dot weekend. 

Wearwhite did not hold a campaign to coincide with the Pink Dot rally, but it called on Muslims to dress in white on the first evening prayer to mark the start of Ramadan on June 17. 

Mr Noor said it was done not as a counter-reaction to Pink Dot, but to spread awareness on the concept of “freedom and love according to Islam”.

In response to TODAY’s queries, Pink Dot spokesperson Paerin Choa cited churches and religious communities that accept and embrace LGBT people, such as the Free Community Church. 

“In a multi-cultural, multi-religious and multi-racial country like Singapore, with secularism at its core, citizens are generally accepting of diversity,” he said. “We believe that families should be built on love and understanding, rather than exclusion.”

The executive committee of Humanist Society (Singapore) also commented on LoveSingapore’s move, saying the group’s “repeated emphasis on the word ‘majority’ (in its Facebook post) is troubling”.

“In Singapore’s multiracial, multireligious society, no particular religion or group can claim to speak for the majority,” it said in a Facebook post. “The Humanist Society (Singapore) calls for respectful, informed discussion on the topic, based on reason, evidence, and compassion around the cause.”

Mr Khong could not be reached for comment as of press time.