Pink Dot 16 Singapore Leaving no one behind

By June 7, 2024 June 10th, 2024 Regional

Pink Dot 2023 was an incredible milestone year for us. Not only was it the 15th edition of our annual rally, it was also the first Pink Dot we were organising after the historic repeal of Section 377A, the colonial-era law criminalising gay sex in Singapore.

The repeal of 377A in 2022 was a positive step forward for the LGBTQ+ community, and multiple groups expressed relief that we had finally gotten rid of the discriminatory law (link). 

Unfortunately, in order to appease social conservatives, repeal was also accompanied by a constitutional amendment barring all future court challenges against the heterosexual definition of marriage. Many of our parliamentarians justified this move as an attempt to “protect traditional family values”, which was an incredibly hurtful episode for many LGBTQ+ Singaporeans who felt that we were characterised as a threat to families, despite having families of our own.

One of our five community speakers this year, Robin Lim, had this to say​​ as a parent of an LGBTQ+ son: “It is our hope that you follow your hearts rather than your minds. Every child that comes to us is a gift. Your LGBTQ child has to go through a much more challenging and difficult journey, with hurdles to overcome. We, as parents, should not add another obstacle in their journey.”
Cally Cheung, who is expecting her first child with her wife, said: “With this great joy comes fear. What if my child is bullied in school for having two mothers? Further, our family is not legally recognised. […] Many of us leave Singapore, because we have no choice. We leave because we want the best for our children, for us to be recognised as a family. But there are still many of us living in Singapore, hoping to make a change.”

Pink Dot 2023 – Celebrating All Families

In response to this harmful ‘anti-family’ environment, Pink Dot wanted to confront the issue head-on, and made the theme of ‘Family’ the centrepiece of our 2023 campaign.

We wanted to question why ‘traditional family values’ needed protecting from LGBTQ+ people in the first place. We also wanted to challenge the misconception that equality and pro-family goals were mutually exclusive. More importantly, we wanted to remind the public that LGBTQ+ people have families of our own – families of all kinds that we love and care for very deeply, and that often go unrecognised just because they look a little bit different from the norm.

Our 2023 campaign thus centred on three key messages, all united around the idea of celebrating, affirming and supporting families in all of their diversity:

  1. That LGBTQ+ people deserve acceptance within their families of origins, and that parents of LGBTQ+ children also need support in their journey of acceptance;
  2. That LGBTQ+ people have loving relationships with our significant others – sometimes, even raising children together – and that we deserve the same rights and protections as our heterosexual counterparts;
  3. That LGBTQ+ people also have deep bonds of kinship and care with one another, even if they are not romantic in nature; and that mutual support within our community is our own version of family as well.

Bringing Our Campaign Together

We knew that a theme like ‘family’ would naturally resonate with people, both amongst the LGBTQ+ community as well the general public. We also knew that we had to seize the moment, because the constitutional amendment was fresh on people’s minds, and we wanted to respond quickly and definitively.

Because of this, we worked hard to involve as many stakeholders as we could, to ensure that our campaign had multiple dimensions and maximum reach. 

First, we released a video publicising our campaign, showcasing the theme and inviting all Singaporeans to rethink the definition of what ‘family’ means to them. (link). While we typically release a campaign video every year, we were extremely proud that this was the first year where we were able to release it with captions in all four official languages of Singapore, so that we could reach out to communities that do not use English as their preferred language.

At our media launch, we also organised a panel discussion for the first time, inviting LGBTQ+ people to share their experiences and also academics and researchers to break down the topic of ‘what makes a family’ in front of mainstream media journalists (link).

We also rallied other LGBTQ+ community groups to kickstart various initiatives that were centred around the theme of Family. Oogachaga and SAFE unveiled at our media launch a new initiative, “My Family Matters”, which was a series of ongoing tea sessions for the families of LGBTQ+ people. The goal was to create opportunities for people to come together informally and learn more about how to support their LGBTQ+ family members.

To amplify the various campaign messages to new audiences, we relied on various influencers and key opinion leaders. Beyond the typical profile of LGBTQ+ influencers, we also reached out to prominent parenting influencers, who were able to help us focus on the message on how modern parents can support their LGBTQ+ children (if they had any), or to be better allies to the community by raising their children on the message of inclusivity (link).

In addition to our corporate fundraising efforts, we also engaged the private sector by speaking at their various internal pride panels. We talked not only about the importance of supporting LGBTQ+ employees at the workplace, but also how parents could become better educated about the issues of the community and learn how to embrace their children if they came out as LGBTQ+.

Pink Dot 2024 – What’s Next?

Section 377A had been the biggest & most obvious obstacle to progress, but removing it was only the beginning. Now we need to do the difficult work of tackling the myriad ways our community is discriminated against and in which we still struggle to belong. 

After Pink Dot in June, Pink Dot ran a survey with research company Milieu Insights. The survey showed that LGBTQ+ millennials and Gen Zs identified (i) harassment and bullying, (ii) barriers to home ownership, and (iii) barriers to family formation as the top issues that most concerned them (link). This year’s campaign hopes to build on this and shed light on the ways LGBTQ+ people struggle to build a future in Singapore and avoid being left behind.

The media launch for our 2024 campaign was released on 29 May – see the media release here – Pink Dot 16: No one left behind.

About the contributor:

Clement Tan (he/him)

Clement has been a member of the Pink Dot organising committee from 2016. Since 2019, he has also been acting as its spokesperson, strategising its campaign messaging and handling media engagements. He was also a core member of the Ready4Repeal working group, leading town halls and rallying more than 20 LGBTQ+ community groups for joint responses and press releases.

Pink Dot SG is a social movement that campaigns for the acceptance and equality of the LGBTQ community in Singapore, and for a more diverse and inclusive Singapore. It organises the only LGBTQ+ rally in Singapore that is attended by thousands every year. It also does advocacy and education on the issues of discrimination faced by the LGBTQ+ community in Singapore year-round.Clement Tan (he/him)Pink Dot SG is a social movement that campaigns for the acceptance and equality of the LGBTQ community in Singapore, and for a more diverse and inclusive Singapore. It organises the only LGBTQ+ rally in Singapore that is attended by thousands every year. It also does advocacy and education on the issues of discrimination faced by the LGBTQ+ community in Singapore year-round.

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