Cathay told to remove tagline on Pink Dot ads

The Pink Dot ads for its July 1 event at Hong Lim Park are displayed on the front door panels and along an escalator inside Cathay Cineleisure Orchard.
The Pink Dot ads for its July 1 event at Hong Lim Park are displayed on the front door panels and along an escalator inside Cathay Cineleisure Orchard.ST PHOTO: DAVE LIM

Singapore's advertising watchdog has asked for a statement to be removed from advertisements for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rally, Pink Dot, on display at Cathay Cineleisure Orchard.

The Advertising Standards Authority of Singapore (Asas) told The Straits Times that while the ad does not "technically" breach the general principle on family values in the Singapore Code of Advertising Practice, the words "supporting the freedom to love" may affect public sensitivities.

"As such, Asas advised Cathay Organisation Holdings to remove the statement. However, the rest of the advertisement may otherwise remain," said the watchdog.

The ads are displayed on the front door panels and along an escalator inside the mall.

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They feature Pink Dot's ambassadors, the July 1 date for the event at Hong Lim Park and the tagline "supporting the freedom to love".

The advertisements had drawn complaints from a Facebook group which is opposed to the annual Pink Dot rally.

Asas noted it was permissible to promote the event as long as the organiser had the necessary permit, so event details are acceptable. The advertising code's section on family values also states that advertisements should not "downplay the importance of the family as a unit and foundation of society".

Pink Dot had similar advertising at Cineleisure for its rally in 2015, including the same tagline.

Cathay, which sponsored the rally in 2015 but is not a sponsor this year, said the ads belong to Pink Dot and "Cathay is not in the position to decide on the removal of the statement". It said it had relayed the request to Pink Dot.

In response, Pink Dot said as exemplified by its tagline "supporting the freedom to love", it 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".

It said a tagline calling for inclusion and love does not undermine the concept of family or disrespect the individual.

Pink Dot said: "Our aim is to have conversations and dialogue to promote understanding. Through this, we hope to achieve consensus and not conflict. We are open to speaking to Asas and invite them to a frank discussion on this."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 10, 2017, with the headline 'Cathay told to remove tagline on Pink Dot ads'. Print Edition | Subscribe