SINGAPORE: Only Singaporeans and permanent residents (PRs) will be allowed to attend this year’s Pink Dot, the annual rally held in support of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, the event’s organisers said on Sunday (May 14).
Under recent changes to the Public Order Act, foreigners are not allowed to assemble at the Speakers’ Corner, where the Pink Dot rally is held.
In a Facebook note on Sunday, the event’s organisers said they received a reminder from the police that with the changes in the law, the police will no longer distinguish between participants and observers, and regards anyone who turns up at a Speakers’ Corner event to be part of an assembly.
In previous Pink Dot events, while foreigners were prohibited from participating, they were allowed to observe the rally.
“Pink Dot 2017 organisers have no choice but to adhere to this regulation, as organisers and foreigners caught flouting this rule are liable to be prosecuted,” the post said.
Those who illegally take part in Speakers’ Corner events face a fine. Organisers could also be fined or jailed.
Home Affairs and Law Minister K Shanmugam said in Parliament last month that the changes to the Public Order Act were made to prevent foreigners from advancing political causes in Singapore.
“As a government, we don’t take a position for or against Pink Dot, but we do take a position against foreign involvement,” he said then. “The point is this is a matter for Singaporeans, Singapore companies, Singapore entities to discuss.”
In June last year, the Ministry of Home Affairs said that foreign firms would no longer be allowed to sponsor or participate in Pink Dot. Previous corporate sponsors of the event include Google, Apple and Facebook.
Organisers said on Sunday that with the new rules, they will livestream the event over Facebook and provide updates on Instagram and Snapchat.
“Pink Dot has been 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,” the post said.
“We acknowledge that this directly impacts and separates individuals with partners, friends and family who might not be Singapore Citizens or Permanent Residents and we are just as upset by this. Unfortunately, this was a decision that was taken out of our hands.”