Placards to replace torch lights at annual LGBT event Pink Dot on June 4

For this year's Pink Dot, organisers will give out 5,000 placards for Singaporean and PR attendees to pen messages in.
For this year's Pink Dot, organisers will give out 5,000 placards for Singaporean and PR attendees to pen messages in. ST PHOTO: JAMIE KOH

SINGAPORE - Participants at this year's Pink Dot, an annual gathering in support of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, will be holding up placards instead of pink torch lights.

At the event, which will be held at Hong Lim Park on Saturday, June 4, organisers will give out 5,000 round placards to Singaporean and permanent resident attendees. They will also be given markers for them to pen messages on the placards, which are about the length of a broadsheet newspaper or 60cm in diameter.

"We want to let people have a say at the event," Pink Dot spokesman Paerin Choa said in an interview with The Straits Times. "I think that people are ready to take this step forward."

This year's Pink Dot will start two hours earlier at 3pm so participants can hold up their placards before the sun sets. Previously, they would light up the field with torches after dark.

Now into its eighth year, Pink Dot has attracted more participants over the years. There were just 2,500 people at the first Pink Dot in 2009. But this became 28,000 participants in 2015.

Organisers said the growth of Pink Dot shows that society's attitudes are changing.

"As the movement matures, we think the way people participate can also mature," said Mr Choa.

Asked if they were concerned about participants having aggressive messages that could cause pushback from society, Mr Choa said the purpose of Pink Dot was to show diverse view points. "I think it will allow conversation to mature even further."

In recent years, Pink Dot has attracted opposition from some religious groups.

Muslim religious teacher Noor Deros started a Wear White campaign in 2014 to signal opposition to homosexuality, and Faith Community Baptist Church senior pastor Lawrence Khong has been urging his congregation to dress in white on the same weekend as Pink Dot from 2014.

Sponsorship for Pink Dot has also grown in tandem with opposition against it. There are 18 sponsors this year, twice as many as last year. They include tech giants Google, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, as well as Barclays bank and law firms Clifford Chance and Cavenagh Law.

About 500 volunteers have signed up to help at Pink Dot this year.

Mr Choa said: "I really see this year as an indication that attitudes have changed. All the way from sponsors being very enthusiastic about coming on board, to volunteers being very enthusiastically about signing up. That's why we think that maybe it is time to go for a change in format."