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Thousands attend Pink Dot LGBTQ rally, as physical event resumes after 2-year hiatus

SINGAPORE — Thousands of people turned up at Hong Lim Park on Saturday (June 18) in support of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) rally Pink Dot, the first time that the event was held physically since 2019.

The Pink Dot rally, held in support of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) community, was attended by thousands of people on June 18, 2022, after the physical event could not take place in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic.
The Pink Dot rally, held in support of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) community, was attended by thousands of people on June 18, 2022, after the physical event could not take place in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic.
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  • The Pink Dot event was put on hold over the last two years and held virtually instead due to the pandemic
  • Attendees and event organisers said that they were glad that the event could be run physically this year
  • The event sends a strong message against discrimination of the LGBTQ community, they said
  • Members of Parliament were also seen at the rally

SINGAPORE — Thousands of people turned up at Hong Lim Park on Saturday (June 18) in support of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) rally Pink Dot, the first time that the event was held physically since 2019. 

Pink Dot, which is in its 14th consecutive year after it was first held in 2009, was forced to go online in 2020 and 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Held from 3pm to 7pm, this year's rally featured a concert segment with local acts, including singer Preeti Nair who goes by the stage name Preetipls, dance group Limited Edition, and drag performance group Singapore Drag Royalty.

There were also speeches by writer and pro-democracy activist Kokila Annamalai, lawyer and committee member of Ready4Repeal Remy Choo; Mr Shan Menon, lead peer counsellor at The T Project, an LGBTQ support group; and Ms Zuby Eusofe, founder of the Healing Circle SG, a group supporting queer Muslims.

Ready4Repeal is an online movement for the repeal of Section 377A of the Singapore Penal Code, a law which criminalises sex between two consenting males. 

The speeches touched on the trauma faced by the LGBTQ community and the push towards legislative and social change.

Home Affairs and Law Minister K Shanmugam said in March that the Government is “considering the best way forward” on the law that criminalises consensual sex between men, stating that any change will need to respect different viewpoints, consider them carefully, and after having consulted different groups. 

Speaking to reporters, event organisers said that they were glad that the event could be run physically this year despite the "rushed" planning since the Covid-19 rules were relaxed.

Pink Dot SG spokesperson Clement Tan said that having attendees back physically sends a powerful message that the LGBTQ community is rallying for more inclusivity. 

"It feels great to be back in our first physical event since the pandemic," he told TODAY.

"What we hope to achieve is to say very loudly and very clearly, what kind of Singapore we want to build together, hopefully one that is going to be inclusive, and equal, and free of discrimination."

Attendees at the Pink Dot rally at Hong Lim Park on June 18, 2022.

With most attendees clad in pink, several told TODAY that they were happy to be back at the physical event, adding that the virtually-held Pink Dot over the last two years had not been as galvanising for the community.

At the event, attendees sat on picnic mats as they watched the concert. Some dressed in elaborate pink-themed costumes and waved rainbow-coloured flags, while others held placards expressing their support for LGBTQ people.

"It's great to be back because there's always more unity when we are in person," said one attendee, who wanted to be known only as Drima.

"It's not as impactful online, so it's great to be back," said the 25-year-old, who works in the media industry. "We're still as determined as we used to be... we haven't lost our numbers."

Another attendee, Joanna, who works in an admin role, said that she likewise felt that the mass attendance of the event sent a strong message to the authorities and the general public against discrimination. 

"We are happy to see everyone here, as three years has been a long time," said the 34-year-old, who did not want to disclose her full name. 

"There's so many people here for a reason... the Government should start listening."

MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT IN ATTENDANCE

Among the attendees was Kebun Baru Single Member Constituency Member of Parliament (MP) Henry Kwek from the People’s Action Party (PAP). Sengkang Group Representation Constituency MP Jamus Lim from the Workers' Party was also present in his personal capacity.

Organisers said that this is the first time an MP from the ruling party has attended Pink Dot in an official capacity. 

Mr Kwek arrived at around 3.30pm wearing a light pink polo tee, and stopped by several booths set up by LGBTQ community groups. He declined to comment on his reasons for being at the event when approached by the media.

Mr Henry Kwek (centre), MP for Kebun Baru single member constituency, visits the booths at the Pink Dot rally held at Hong Lim Park on June 18, 2022.

Mr Tan, the Pink Dot spokesperson, said that organisers would invite MPs to attend the event every year. 

"For an MP to be here, today, we think that's an encouraging sign of progress," he said.

"He's met a few of the organisers of the community groups here and heard about the struggles that they have encountered." 

Mr Leow Yangfa, executive director of LGBT counselling group Oogachaga, said that Mr Kwek had stopped by his organisation's booth and they talked about the work his group was engaging in. 

"It's certainly a hopeful indication that finally we (Pink Dot) are being recognised as a community event," he said. 

A new feature in this year's event was a booth where attendees could send messages "supporting the freedom to love" to the political representatives of their constituencies.

They did so by placing their handwritten messages into one of several mailboxes bearing the names of the 31 constituencies in Singapore.

Organisers said that after the event, these messages would be delivered to the MP or MPs for each constituency. 

At the conclusion of the event at 7pm, attendees held up pink placards with messages supporting the LGBTQ community. Others in the crowd held white umbrellas, which formed the word "Majulah" (onwards in Malay) when viewed from above.

Said Mr Tan: "Majulah is a call for all of us to make haste and take material steps towards a more inclusive Singapore.

"It is clear that Singaporeans are no longer content with the status quo. This is especially so for our youth, who have come in droves to not only stand with us, but to also speak out about the kind of future they want."

Related topics

Pink Dot LGBTQ Hong Lim Park

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