Singapore: Pink Dot gay rally to deploy security for first time after increased opposition

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Organisers of Singapore’s annual gay rights rally are to deploy security personnel for the first time, amid fears that increased religious opposition might blight this year’s event.

Pink Dot, which is due to be held for in Singapore tomorrow for the sixth consecutive year, has grown significantly in recent years, which has led to more vocal opposition from homophobic groups.

Earlier this week, Christian and Muslim groups in Singapore joined forces to protest against the rally, in opposition to the “normalization of LGBT” and “public promotion of homosexuality”.

Speaking yesterday to English-language newspaper TODAY, Paerin Choa, a spokesperson for the Pink Dot organisation, said: “We’re aware that [groups opposing the event] might come down and [we] have a crisis management plan in place.”

He added: “We’ve also engaged security personnel, but more because of potential crowd issues.”

Responding to claims made by the religious groups, he said: “I won’t say that we’re normalising it, I’d say that we are exposing people to the truth of what being LGBT means.”

He explained that the event is not intended as a protest or to change Singaporean laws, saying: “Pink Dot has always been a social movement to change hearts and minds. When we first started in 2009, homosexuality in Singapore was taboo.”

The highlight of the celebrations is the formation of a circular crowd of people wearing pink, an aerial photograph of which produces the ‘pink dot’ itself to indicate the volume of participants each year.

This is classed as a demonstration by Singaporean authorities, which restricts participation to citizens and Permanent Residents and bans foreigners from taking part.

Last year’s rally attracted an estimated 21,000 people, the highest numbers seen in the event’s history. The first event was held in 2009.

Strict Singaporean laws, which restrict such demonstrations to Speakers’ Corner in Hong Lim Park, prevent more conventional Pride marches.

Section 377A of the Singaporean Penal Code forbids male same-sex acts, although female same-sex sexual activity was legalised in 2007. Although the law is sporadically enforced, a constitutional challenge against it was dismissed by courts last year.