Monday, 5 June 2017

Foreigners barred from Singapore annual LGBT pride event

Pink Dot, Barricaded: Aye or Nay?

Many people are unhappy at the restrictions imposed on this year’s Pink Dot.

Besides the restriction on sponsorships, the most recent one being the barricades that will be erected along Hong Lim Park with 7 entry/exit point manned by an estimated total of 50 security officers.

Bags and identity cards (ICs) of attendees will be checked to ensure that only Singapore citizens and Permanent Residents (PRs) are allowed into the park. No foreigners.

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It is with profound regret for us, the organisers of Pink Dot 2017, to announce that as per recent changes to the Public Order Act rules on general assembly, only Singapore Citizens and Permanent Residents are permitted to assemble at the Speakers’ Corner.

As organisers, we were reminded by the Singapore Police Force that with these changes, 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. In order to continue using Speakers’ Corner, 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.

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. 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.

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Ring fencing Pink Dot

IT’S been a challenging year for Pink Dot organisers. On top of the ban on foreign sponsorship, they were slapped with the difficulty of barring foreigners from attending the event as participants. At the Pink Dot Media Launch event yesterday (May 30), it was announced that for the first time the Speakers’ Corner, the annual site of the Pink Dot event, will be barricaded.

This, however, was not something that they had initially settled for. The spokesman for Pink Dot, Mr Paerin Choa, said: “The set-up of barricades and checkpoints around the park was the only measure deemed acceptable by authorities; this was a decision taken out of our hands and is something we do not readily agree with.” Organisers had to submit three proposals to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and they were all rejected. One of their previous proposals only included the setting up of checkpoints but this was rejected because MHA wanted “foolproof preventive measures”.

The police had also reminded organisers of the changes to the Public Order Act which were in operation since November last year. Under the conditions for organisers of assemblies, these amendments include having organisers ensure that “only citizens of Singapore or permanent residents of Singapore participate in the assembly or procession”. Failure to comply with these conditions may result in prosecution.

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Barricades in Speakers’ Corner – letting a hundred flowers die
“We as a society should be forward-looking.” – Lee Hsien Loong, 2004, National Day Rally speech

“Once in a while, Think Centre says they want to go to the Speakers’ Corner and they want to plant 100 flowers there, let the 100 flowers bloom.  Well, I think go ahead.  They want to water the flowers, go ahead.  They want to turn the flowers down, go ahead.  I mean, free expression as long as you don’t get into race and religion and don’t start a riot.  It’s a signal – speak, speak your voice, be heard, take responsibility for your views and opinions.”

13 years after Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong made those remarks in his maiden National Day Rally speech, the barricades will be up at Speakers’ Corner come 1 July.

It is perhaps apt, given that Mr Lee’s analogy of letting a hundred flowers bloom came from Mao Zedong’s “Hundred Flowers Campaign” in 1956 which ended with a crackdown on dissent.

'S'pore entity' rule (dubbed Pink Dot amendment) imposed on use of Speakers' Corner
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MHA considering 'Pink Dot' regulations to prevent foreign interference in local politics

Hong Lim Park To Be Barricaded, But At Least Nathan Hartono Will Be There
Speaker’s Corner To Be Barricaded, Nathan Hartono To Be Ambassador

Looks like Pink Dot 2017 is going full steam ahead, despite the various roadblocks that have been thrown in its path.

For example, in light of recent amendments to the Public Order Act, the Pink Dot organisers have been instructed to ensure that only Singaporeans and PRs take part in the campaign.

After having countless proposals rejected by the authorities, who claimed that frequent patrols and ID checks weren’t “foolproof” enough, the organisers had to turn to their last resort — erecting a barricade around an open park.

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Pink Dot 2017 to have barricades, checks by security personnel

This year’s Pink Dot rally at Hong Lim Park will have barricades installed around the perimeter of the event with entry checkpoints manned by security personnel, organisers announced on Tuesday (May 30).

The measures are to comply with recent changes to the Public Order Act that block foreigners from promoting political causes in Singapore, Pink Dot organisers said.

It means that only Singaporeans and permanent residents will be allowed to attend this year’s Pink Dot, which is held in support of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

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Fence off Pink Dot at Hong Lim Park to keep local gay pride in

A man, presumably Singaporean, is angered / saddened / disappointed enough to open his word processor / email, and pound out a letter to the Today forum page.

His lamentation?

He cannot take it that foreigners are abusing values such as democracy, freedom of speech and human rights in Singapore, and spreading their agenda here.

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New rules to suppress activism? Group demands answers as Pink Dot nears

RIGHTS advocates are questioning the intent of recent revisions to Singapore’s Public Order Act, which Pink Dot organisers say have resulted in their having to set up barricades and conduct identity checks during the July 1 gathering.

Amnesty International (AI) in a statement asked if the law tweaks were meant to suppress activism in Singapore, a country that criminalises sexual relations between men and that is often accused of discriminating against the LGBT.

“The amendment… increases the risk of criminalisation of peaceful assembly in Singapore and will stigmatise those who participate in these rallies, including LGBT people, instead of ensuring they are able to enjoy their human rights without discrimination,” the group said.

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Singapore Homosexuals Make History with Exclusive Locals-Only Speakers’ Corner Event

Due to the government’s decree that only Singaporeans and Singapore PRS are allowed to attend Pink Dot 2017, organisers of the annual LGBT event will be erecting barricades around Speaker’s Corner at Hong Lim Park for the pride parade on 1 July.

Security officers will also be stationed at entrances to the event to check the identity cards and belongings of participants. So, come July, Singapore will see mark the first time a “Great Barricade” has been erected for an event at Speakers’ Corner.

The MHA says that the Great Barricade is aimed at maintaining security, in the wake of recent terrorist attacks around the world.

related: New Law Mandates Only S'poreans & PRs Allowed to Attend Pink Dot 2017

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Foreigners not allowed to attend annual LGBT pride event due to new changes to regulation

The organisers of the annual Pink Dot event has just announced that only Singapore Citizens and Permanent Residents will be allowed to partake in this year's Pink Dot celebration at the Speakers' Corner, Hong Lim Park.

The organisers wrote, "It is with profound regret for us, the organisers of Pink Dot 2017, to announce that as per recent changes to the Public Order Act rules on general assembly, only Singapore Citizens and Permanent Residents are permitted to assemble at the Speakers’ Corner."

The organisers were reminded by the Singapore Police Force that the current law does not 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.

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Foreigners barred from Singapore gay-pride rally: organisers
Singapore's Pink Dot rally has attracted crowds of up to 28,000 despite a backlash from conservative groups

Foreigners will be barred from attending Singapore's annual gay-pride rally, its organisers said, as the city-state tightens rules against the involvement of non-Singaporeans in protests.

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

However, the government implemented new rules in November allowing only citizens and permanent residents to attend such events, which take place at the city's only free-speech site, Speakers' Corner.

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Nathan Hartono, Ebi Shankara and Theresa Goh chosen as Pink Dot 2017 ambassadors
Nathan Hartono, Ebi Shankara and Theresa Goh are this year's Pink Dot ambassadors. (Photo: Pink Dot)
Nathan Hartono, Ebi Shankara and Theresa Goh are this year’s Pink Dot ambassadors. (Photo: Pink Dot)

Ambassadors for this year’s Pink Dot event have been revealed to be local singer Nathan Hartono, paralympian Theresa Goh and singer/actor Ebi Shankara. The ninth Pink Dot event, a rally for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community (LGBT), will be held at Hong Lim Park on 1 July.

The ambassadors were revealed to the press during a media event on Tuesday (30 May), during which organisers also announced that the event has garnered support from a total of 116 local businesses as part of their “Red Dot for Pink Dot” campaign, surpassing their target of 100.

“The response to ‘Red Dot for Pink Dot’ has been astounding. Since the launch of the campaign on March 26, we have seen homegrown true blue Singapore companies step forward to be proud supporters… We actually thought having 100 sponsors for Pink Dot was very ambitious but boy were we very glad to be proven wrong,” said Pink Dot representatives Paerin Choa and Deryne Sim.

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MARUAH expresses concern over amendment of Public Order Act

In a recent statement issued to the press, Maruah, a local non-government would like to express its concern with the amendment to the Public Order Act.

In its statement, MARUAH emphasises the practicality of the new rules, stating that Hong Lim Park is a public place and that it believes that organisers do not have the authority to exclude anyone from the park, even if they wanted to.

Leong Sze Hian, the current president of MARUAH wrote, "Are we arguably, being insincere in having a Speakers Corner - and yet making it practically impossible to fulfill the conditions because there is no way any organizer can prevent foreigners from being observers at Hong Lim Park.

Foreigners not allowed to attend annual LGBT pride event
Pink Dot 2017 wins more support from local firms

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Pink Dot 2017 video shows everyday S’poreans speaking to LGBT folks

What happens when everyday regular Singaporeans get to meet and chat with folks from the LGBT community that they never had prior encounters with or any familiarity at all?

The Pink Dot 2017 video is slaying yet again, as it not only shows the emotional connection from opening up to the other side but that offline conversations as a result of putting a name and face to the other person occurs without the vitriol of online discourse.

The initial awkwardness then gives way to the realisation that love is love.

Pink Dot 2017 video shows everyday S’poreans speaking to LGBT folks
Today forum writer: Fence off Pink Dot at Hong Lim Park to keep local gay pride in
Only Singaporeans and PRs will be permitted to attend this year’s event
Marriage defenders call for boycott of S’pore companies supporting Pink Dot

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Putting red tape over pink dot

SOMETIMES, no news is good news. That’s what I thought when I realised that the Pink Dot weekend was going to happen with much less nastiness surrounding it compared to previous years. I mean much less “open”, public nastiness. Sure, the Wear White movement was up and about, but it’s everybody’s right to express an opinion in whatever form, so long as there is no incitement to violence.

Maybe, just maybe, I thought, the Pink Dot movement was becoming ordinary, even mainstream enough to not raise any eyebrows. The LGBTQ community will be left alone to enjoy their day. Then the G weighs in with a warning to the movement’s “foreign” corporate sponsors. Then the Media Development Authority pulls a same-sex kissing scene from a musical. Then a gay nightclub in Orlanda in Florida gets attacked. Then a man here has to apologise for shooting off his mouth about “opening fire” – not on gay people, he now says, but companies which support gay people.

I’m only going to deal with one piece of the action: foreign corporate sponsorship.

The surprising support for Pink Dot
A Bigger, Pinker Dot

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MHA reiterates ban on foreign companies’ involvement in Pink Dot SG
Pink Dot Google

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has released a press statement clarifying the government’s stand on foreign companies involving themselves with the annual Pink Dot SG event. This is in response to media queries as to whether foreign companies can provide sponsorships for the Pink Dot event, held annually at the Speakers’ Corner.

MHA has strengthened its position against foreign entity involvement “domestic issues, especially political issues or controversial social issues with political overtones”, citing LGBT issues as one of these issues.

According to the press statement, foreigners are not allowed to organise or speak at the events, or participate in demonstrations. In addition, MHA states that it will take steps to make it clear that foreign entities should not fund, support or influence such events held at the Speakers’ Corner.

related: Marked increase in local brands and organisations showing their support

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Furor over a Pink Dot 2017 advert
Foreigners barred from Singapore annual LGBT pride event
Pink Dot 2016 @ Hong Lim Park
Pink Dot 2015
Pink Dots @ Hong Lim Park 2014
Pink Dots @ Hong Lim Park 2013
Singapore Court Ruling for Gay Rights
FAQs on Sexuality, LGBTs and Section 377A
Section 377A and the LGBTs
'Wear White' 2014
‘Wear White vs ‘Pink Dot’