Reasons behind request to amend Pink Dot banner unfounded


Peter Tay Kay Chai

Published: 4:00 AM, June 15, 2017

The Advertising Standards Authority of Singapore (Asas) has appealed for a Pink Dot advertisement to be amended, for reasons related to “family values” (Pink Dot banner at Cineleisure to stay despite advertising watchdog’s call to remove tagline; June 9, online).

The argument is flawed, unfounded, and may be socially harmful.

First, Asas’ notion of the family “unit” as one that consists of a husband, wife and child(ren) precludes homosexuals, single parents, widows and widowers, orphans and heterosexual couples unable or unwilling to conceive.

Asas presumes Pink Dot is contrary to promoting family bonds, but participants in Pink Dot events comprise grandparents, parents, extended families and heterosexual peers.

Furthermore, Pink Dot’s “freedom to love” does not refer to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people per se. So the slogan does promote values stated in the Singapore Code of Advertising Practice.

Second, Asas appears to believe that rejecting inclusive love is healthy. This is potentially dangerous to the individual and society instead.

For instance, hostility between an LGBT person and his/her family, emerging from sexual orientation issues, weakens the family unit.

Heterosexuals are not subjected to prejudice, familial abandonment or peer rejection, and do not commit suicide or risk coming under fire at work or at school because of their sexual orientation.

Promoting acceptance of LGBT children and peers can strengthen family and social ties, especially considering that being LGBT does not bring harm, and sexual orientation is difficult to change.

While Asas is not legally empowered to impose its beliefs, it has some authority that may translate into consequences.

Previously Asas had successfully engaged with the Media Development Authority to remove an Abercrombie and Fitch advert featuring a shirtless male model it deemed offensive.

The public’s views appear to be divided. Any organisation that relents to poor reasoning and unfounded demands, especially if religiously motivated, runs the danger of destabilising social coherence.

Singapore’s pluralistic society strives to maintain inclusiveness, whether it pertains to religion, ethnicity, nationality or sexual orientation.

Any authority that seeks to undermine this should be educated based on good reasoning and evidence, with the nation’s well-being as the priority.