COMMENT: Watching Pink Dot 2013 away from home

Kirsten Han is a Singaporean blogger, journalist and filmmaker, currently a Masters student at Cardiff University. A social media junkie, she tweets at @kixes. The views expressed below are her own.

Despite all efforts, I've only ever made it to Pink Dot once, in 2011. All the other times I have been overseas, watching my friends back home with envy.

This year I'm in Athens, Greece, running around the city talking to bloggers, journalists and musicians about the sudden shutdown of the country's only public broadcasting network. Today I've been hanging out with some amazing citizen journalists talking politics, activism and the media, but I’ve kept an eye (and a finger on my iPhone) on Pink Dot developments.

Seeing the pink dot of over 20,000 lit up against the Singaporean cityscape made me miss home more than ever, especially since I knew that many of my friends would be there.

There’s something special about Pink Dot. While it does address a very serious national issue – that of LGBT rights and discrimination within our society – it’s a day in Singapore when people aren’t divided. People don’t go to Pink Dot to shout or argue or fight. They go to celebrate diversity and acceptance and love.

When I was at Pink Dot I found couples, friends and plenty of families. There were families with three (or more) generations represented. Old grandmothers and grandfathers – supposedly meant to be the most conservative and staunch defenders of anti-gay “Asian values” – told me that they were there to support their grandchildren, and to support the freedom to love.

It is on Pink Dot day that we see the inclusivity we want for Singapore. Where people of all shapes and sizes assemble and no one is that quick to judge or to exclude.

It makes me wonder: what if we could extend this inclusivity beyond just one day in Hong Lim Park? What if we, as a society, decided that we didn't want this celebration of freedom to love to be just an event, but an everyday reality?

Achieving equality is not easy, and anyone who expects it to be is naïve. There are nations much older than us who have had much longer struggles for LGBT rights. Yet it is not impossible. The recent Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) shows us that change is possible.

In Singapore the struggle is not even about same-sex marriage. It is about the decriminalisation of sex between men; essentially, the decriminalisation of homosexuality (for men). And this is not just an issue for gay men. It is an issue for all of us who live, work, study and love in Singapore. Without clearing this hurdle, we will never be able to declare that we live in a truly inclusive society.

Over the years Singapore has made much progress in many aspects. We've got so much to be proud of. We shouldn't stop now.

In working towards the Singapore that we want to see in 30 years' time, we should never forget the beauty of diversity and acceptance. Rather than resting on our laurels and accepting the status quo just because "it's always been there", we should be taking active steps to improve the community in which we live. Repealing Section 377A of the Penal Code would be a wonderful first step in making sure that the freedom to love is not just restricted to a one-day festival of pink, but an everyday reality that we can all count on.

  • AirAsia crash due to faulty component, crew response: probe
    AirAsia crash due to faulty component, crew response: probe

    A faulty component and the crew's inadequate response caused an AirAsia A320 to crash into the Java Sea last year, killing all 162 people on board, an Indonesian report said Tuesday. Flight QZ8501 plunged into the ocean in stormy weather on December 28, during what was supposed to be a routine flight from the Indonesian city of Surabaya to Singapore. The crash of the Airbus A320-200 triggered a huge international search, with ships and aircraft from several nations involved in a lengthy hunt that was hampered by strong currents and bad weather.

  • AirAsia plane crash caused by faulty component, crew action

    Jakarta, Dec 1 (IANS) A faulty component and the way the pilots responded to a technical malfunction caused AirAsia Flight QZ8501 to plunge into the Java Sea in December 2014, killing all 162 people on board, Indonesian officials said on Tuesday. The ill-fated plane was en route to Singapore from the Indonesian city of Surabaya on December 28, 2014, when it crashed into the Java Sea, CNN reported. The plane's flight control computer had a cracked solder joint that kept malfunctioning, Indonesia's National Transport Safety Committee (NTSC) said in a report.

  • Singapore opens metal recovery unit for waste reduction

    Singapore, Dec 1 (IANS) Singapore's first ever metal recovery facility was inaugurated on Tuesday, as part of the National Environment Agency's long-term strategy to become a Zero Waste Nation. Since operations began in July 2015, the REMEX Metal Recovery Facility has reduced incineration bottom ash (IBA) by 10 percent, leading to 10 percent less waste sent to Semakau landfill for disposal, Channel News Asia reported. Singapore's only landfill was originally expected to run out of space by 2035, but with the facility, its lifespan can now be prolonged.