Pink Dot rally pulls in the crowds

The annual rally at Hong Lim Park yesterday saw 20,000 Singaporeans and permanent residents attending (above and below). Some from the LGBT community took to the stage to share their views. Pink Dot ambassadors - singer Nathan Hartono, paralympian Th
The annual rally at Hong Lim Park yesterday saw 20,000 Singaporeans and permanent residents attending (above). Some from the LGBT community took to the stage to share their views. Pink Dot ambassadors - singer Nathan Hartono, paralympian Theresa Goh and actor Ebi Shankara - also went on stage.PHOTOS: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, LAU FOOK KONG
The annual rally at Hong Lim Park yesterday saw 20,000 Singaporeans and permanent residents attending (above and below). Some from the LGBT community took to the stage to share their views. Pink Dot ambassadors - singer Nathan Hartono, paralympian Th
The annual rally at Hong Lim Park yesterday saw 20,000 Singaporeans and permanent residents attending (above). Some from the LGBT community took to the stage to share their views. Pink Dot ambassadors - singer Nathan Hartono, paralympian Theresa Goh and actor Ebi Shankara - also went on stage.PHOTOS: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, LAU FOOK KONG

S'poreans young and old attend at colourful Speakers' Corner event

There was the attendee who dressed as Babadook, a Netflix show character that became an accidental gay icon when the website listed The Babadook as a lesbian, gay bisexual and transgender (LGBT) film.

And then there was retiree Loh Kwek Leong, 63, who was among the thousands of Singaporeans and permanent residents who showed up for the LGBT rally Pink Dot. He was there with his wife, daughters and their boyfriends.

Mr Loh said it was about being "on the right side of history".

Queues snaked around Hong Lim Park from late afternoon till 8pm yesterday with people turning up to show support for the event. Mr Stefan Kwang, 28, who works in sales and marketing, attended with his boyfriend and sister. He said: "We have to be here especially this year, given the ruling which allowed only Singaporeans and permanent residents to attend."

Last October, the Public Order Act was amended with organisers of Speakers' Corner events having to "ensure that only citizens of Singapore or permanent residents of Singapore participate in the assembly or procession".

The park, barricaded for the first time, was packed with people dressed in pink and hosting picnics. Wine drinkers shared the space with parkgoers who took along their children and pet dogs.

 

SHOWING SUPPORT

When my grandkids look back on this, I want them to see their grandfather was on the right side of history.

RETIREE LOH KWEK LEONG, who was with his wife, his daughters and their boyfriends, on why he was there.

People streamed in from 3pm and the park was full by 6.40pm.

Some from the LGBT community took to the stage to share their views and experiences, including Sham, 32, a dog handler who is a married transgender man. There was also a concert featuring local acts like Sam Rui, Tim De Cotta and Apex Project.

At around 8pm, Pink Dot ambassadors - singer Nathan Hartono, paralympian Theresa Goh and actor Ebi Shankara - went on stage and rallygoers switched on their pink torches to form a pink dot.

Aerial images showed the park bathed in pink, with a rainbow running through the crowd.

Said Pink Dot spokesman Paerin Choa: "We are immensely grateful for the massive support Singapore has shown, which we feel reflects a turning point in attitudes towards the LGBT community within the greater Singapore fabric.

"Even with this restricted space that limits Singapore's true propensity for love, we feel that we have taken yet another important step in achieving true equality for all Singaporeans."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 02, 2017, with the headline 'Pink Dot rally pulls in the crowds'. Print Edition | Subscribe