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Singapore mall asked to change gay-pride rally ad

June 13, 2017 - 20:55 By Kim Da-sol
SINGAPORE (AFP) -- A Singapore shopping mall has been asked to change an advertisement promoting a gay pride rally next month because it may affect public sensitivities, the building's management said Tuesday.

Mall operator Cathay Organisation said they could not change the advertisement because it is owned by rally organisers Pink Dot, but would pass on the message.

Cathay Cineleisure, a mall in the popular Orchard Road shopping district, was asked last week by an advertising watchdog to remove the words "supporting the freedom to love" from an advertisement prominently displayed on an escalator.

It is promoting the Pink Dot gay pride rally on July 1.

"As an entertainment company, we have always believed in an all-inclusive society where there is a place for everyone to call home," a Cathay spokesperson told AFP.

"We hope to inspire people to embrace the values of equality where one can live and love freely."

In a statement posted on their Facebook page, Pink Dot organisers said it was promoting a message of "inclusion and diversity", in line with placing the family as the basic unit of society. 

"We are confident Singaporeans are able to discern our message of inclusion, diversity and love from one that seeks to divide us because of differences," Pink Dot said.

It said it was open to a discussion with the non-governmental watchdog the Advertising Standards Authority of Singapore (ASAS) about the ad.

Asked by AFP for comment, ASAS said it would respond "in due course".

Singapore's Pink Dot rally started in 2009 and has attracted crowds of up to 28,000 despite a backlash from conservative groups in a state where protests are strictly controlled.

This year's edition has run into several roadblocks after authorities banned foreign companies from sponsoring the rally.

Multinationals led by Facebook, Google and Goldman Sachs had funded previous editions.

Local companies have stepped in and provided support but under new protest rules, foreigners will be banned from the rally.

Open support for gay rights has grown in recent years. But Singapore's top court in 2014 upheld a law dating back to British colonial rule that criminalises sex between men.