Police issue public advisory to 'keep the peace' at Pink Dot event

Police issue public advisory to 'keep the peace' at Pink Dot event
More than 20,000 people turned up at the Pink Dot mass picnic held at Hong Lim Park in June in support of gay rights.

The police yesterday issued an advisory to the public ahead of this Saturday's Pink Dot event, urging attendees to "keep the peace" and reminding organisers to steer clear of race and religion.

This is the first time the authorities have done so in the five years since the pro-gay event was first held, and comes as the event organisers have taken the unprecedented move of deploying security personnel to manage crowds and potential "unruly behaviour".

These moves have come as Muslim and Christian groups have called on people to join a "Wear White" campaign against Pink Dot and homosexuality, raising the prospect of a protest at the event itself.

But last night, the people behind the Wear White campaign told its supporters to stay away.

"It should be an event that no Muslim is associated with. This includes going to the event to dissuade anyone," they said in a Facebook post. "We should make them irrelevant. They should not define how Muslims behave."

Instead, with the Pink Dot picnic coinciding with the start of Ramadan, it urged supporters to head to the mosque for prayers.

Yesterday's police advisory reminded organisers to ensure that activities are not against the law or the rules governing the use of the Hong Lim Park area, including keeping away from issues like race or religion.

The police have not been in direct contact with the organisers, a Pink Dot spokesman said, but the advisory is welcome.

Over the past five years, he said, Pink Dot has abided by the rules and regulations of the Speakers' Corner without incident. This, as attendance grew from 2,500 people at the inaugural event in 2009 to 21,000 last year.

"This year's event will be no different," he added. The committee is also mindful of the rules involving race and religion, he said, and Pink Dot is a "secular event that embraces all Singaporeans".

And the committee will continue to urge the public to "remain calm, exercise restraint and engage each other in peaceful, constructive dialogue", he added.

First-aid teams and doctors will also be on standby, and over a hundred volunteers will help manage the crowd and keep the park clean, he said.

The Wear White campaign was launched by Islamic religious teacher Noor Deros to protest against Pink Dot and homosexuality, by wearing white to the first evening prayer this Saturday to mark the start of the fasting month of Ramadan.

Reverend Lawrence Khong, founder and senior pastor of Faith Community Baptist Church, has backed this, with the LoveSingapore network of churches asking its congregants to also don white this weekend.

The Islamic Religious Council of Singapore, or Muis, has warned mosques not to get caught in the crossfire between the campaign and the Pink Dot event, while the Government has urged parties to avoid conflict and accommodate differences.

asyiqins@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on June 27, 2014.
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