S’pore clamps down on LGBT event 

Singapore’s Pink Dot lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights demonstration will only allow citizens and permanent residents to attend because of legal changes.

Pink Dot is scheduled for July 1.

Organisers announced the rules with “profound regret”, saying they had been given the order by the police. Residents in the past were allowed to “demonstrate” by holding up placards, although foreigners were allowed to attend, Pink Dot explained.

Now police say that only Singaporean citizens and permanent residents can participate in non-permitted assemblies at Speakers’ Corner.

Homosexual sex remains illegal in Singapore.

The new regulations also mean foreign companies can no longer sponsor the event, with previous sponsors including Google and Barclays.

The Pink Dot event has been held every year since 2009 at Speakers’ Corner in Hong Lim Park, where demonstrations are tolerated without a police permit. About 30 per cent of Singapore’s population is neither a citizen nor permanent resident.

Pink Dot said on Facebook that recent changes to Singapore’s Public Order Act meant that “the law no longer distinguishes between participants and observers, and regards anyone who turns up to the Speakers’ Corner in support of an event to be part of an assembly”.

Event organisers warned that if non-eligible people attended Pink Dot, both the organisation and protesters risked prosecuted.

Anyone caught illegally participating in Speakers’ Corner events can face a fine of up to S$3,000 (US$2,400) for their first offence and up to S$5,000 for repeat offenders.

If found guilty, organisers could face S$10,000 fines or six months in jail.

The organisers said they would have to check identity cards at the event, adding that 28,000 people attended in 2015.

The LGBT activists behind the event said they were “honoured by the strong support from friends from around the world who have unfailingly attended our events over the years, observing as their Singaporean friends make a stand for inclusion, diversity and the freedom to love”.

They said restrictions could separate couples and families, adding they were “just as upset by this”.

In April Home Affairs and Law Minister K Shanmugram announced that protest rules would change.

“It has been the government’s longstanding position that foreigners and foreign entities should not import foreign politics into Singapore; nor should they interfere in our domestic issues, especially those of a political or controversial nature,” Shanmugam said, according to Channel News Asia.

Pink Dot Singapore 2014. Picture credit: Flickr