<Facebook post by K Shanmugam>
There have been several questions about Pink Dot – what is the Government’s position on Pink Dot, why are there rules requiring the organisers to put up barricades and take other security measures, and some other related points.
Recently Bryan Choong from Oogachaga (an NGO which provides counselling and educational services to the LGBT community) approached me and asked me some of these questions. He also spoke with me about Oogachaga helping to spread the anti-drug abuse message to the LGBT community.
I met with Bryan and made the following points, in response to his questions:
[Oogachaga's anti-drug abuse work]: CNB works with many organisations, across all racial, religious and other communities, to get the messages on anti-drug abuse out. The organisations include Churches, Mosques, Hindu organisations, as well as other community organisations. Oogachaga is active with the LGBT community. Thus it makes sense for CNB to ask Oogachaga to help spread the anti-drug abuse message to the LGBT community.
[The Government’s position on Pink Dot]: I told Bryan that the Speakers’ Corner rules allow the Pink Dot event to be organised, and that should be respected. Likewise if anyone wanted to organise an event opposing the LGBT cause, they will have the right to do so, in Speakers Corner. The Government is neutral about the underlying causes. People have the right to organise for whatever cause they wish, as long as the Speakers’ Corner Rules are complied with.
[Security Requirements]: We also spoke about the increased security rules for Speakers’ Corner (like conducting bag checks). The rules apply to everyone and every group. In view of the current security climate, increased security measures are absolutely required. We have seen terror attacks overseas, at rock concerts, festive markets and sporting events. Any large public gathering, with high profile, will be an attractive target. Pink Dot event will attract a large crowd and it would be irresponsible not to take security measures seriously at such events. The security requirements will also be imposed at other events, even outside Speakers’ Corner, depending on the estimated crowd size, amongst other factors. These points were explained in Parliament.
[Harassment]: Bryan said to me that sponsors of the Pink Dot event have been harassed. I told him that the Government is strongly opposed to any harassment of any group. POHA offers civil remedies to those harassed. And if the harassment crosses the line, and is criminal, then the Government will not hesitate to take action. People will have strong views on LGBT issues. The way to deal with the issue is to discuss, persuade. Harassment, either of LGBT activists or anti LGBT activists, is not acceptable.
Bryan asked if I would be prepared for my responses to be on video, and I agreed. I understand that they will put out a video some time.
Subsequently, I met with other people, some of whom are opposed to LGBT lifestyles.They also raised with me the issue of harassment, this time, by LGBT groups against those who don’t support the cause. I gave them the same answer: harassment is not acceptable. If a line is crossed, action will be taken. And POHA offers civil remedies. They also said that in foreign financial institutions, young people who are opposed to LGBT causes are subject to a great deal of pressure to go out and support the LGBT cause, despite their personal beliefs. I asked them to give me some details.