Thousands of people have gathered in Singapore for an annual gay rights rally celebrating sexual diversity in the city-state, despite fierce opposition from religious conservatives.
Straight and homosexual Singaporeans turned Speakers’ Corner, a government designated free-speech park, into a sea of pink – the colour chosen by organisers to represent the freedom to love.
Revellers wore everything from neon pink-rimmed spectacles to tube tops and even facial hair dyed in the colour while dogs were spotted in pink clothing and leashes for the “Pink Dot” rally.
Organisers said 26,000 people attended the event, topping last year’s record of 20,000 and making it one of Singapore’s biggest public rallies in recent times.
“This is a social movement that is seeking to promote inclusiveness in Singapore, and it is amazing that we are breaking records year after year,” Janice Koh, an ambassador for the rally, told AFP.
“Pink Dot’s success goes to show that more Singaporeans are becoming open about showing their support for the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community,” said Koh, an actress and appointed lawmaker representing the arts industry.
The name of the event is a play on Singapore’s nickname – “The Little Red Dot” on the world map.
Organisers have stressed that it was not a protest but a public show of support for LGBT people in Singapore.
The rally has grown in stature since its first edition in 2009, when 2,500 people attended. It now enjoys the support of local celebrities as well as internet giant Google and financial firms Barclays and JP Morgan.
The four-hour, carnival-like rally featured musical performances by Singaporean artists, and culminated with the crowd forming a giant pink dot after dusk by holding LED lights.
Participants brushed off countermovements by Christian and Muslim conservatives opposing the city-state’s growing gay rights movement.