Saturday, 1 July 2017

The Great Barricade @ Pink Dot 2017

PM Lee’s Nephew Supports Pink Dot
 And The Event Reached Max Capacity

Thousands of Singaporeans flocked to Hong Lim Park on Saturday (July 1), as the much-anticipated Pink Dot was held after overcoming many obstacles.

Among them: Foreign sponsorship was banned, which led to local companies filling in the gap; foreigners were banned entirely, leading to barricades being erected around the park; and people complained over even the event’s ad at Orchard Cineleisure.

In happier news, however, Paralympian Theresa Goh came out and became a Pink Dot ambassador. Here she is at the event.

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Over 20,000 people lit up a park to celebrate pride
More than 20,000 Singaporeans came to Pink Dot, the city's annual LGBTQ festival this year, according to organisers

There were so many people who tried to join the event — which sported a rainbow theme this year — that the park where it was held had to be closed at 7 p.m. for capacity.

That's no small feat considering the number of roadblocks the nine-year-old festival has encountered this year.

After the pride event's last edition in 2016, the city's government barred foreign sponsors and foreigners from taking part in the event, and ordered organisers to set up barricades around the 2.32 acre park in response to changes in rules regulating demonstrations in the city. The result was increased costs for Pink Dot's organisers.

Pink Dot 2017 draws thousands despite new restrictions

Support for the annual Pink Dot celebration remained strong with thousands attending the event despite the long queues, tighter security measures and new regulations preventing foreigners from attending the event.

According to the official statement from Pink Dot 2017’s organisers, “close to 20,000 Singaporeans and permanent residents (PRs)” turned up at Hong Lim Park on Saturday (1 July) for the event, which is held in support of Singapore’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.

Long queues were seen from early in the day, with many also watching from the periphery as the main event area progressively filled up. The crowd was so dense that, at one point, an event emcee announced that the venue grounds had reached “full capacity”.

Singapore LGBT activists hold rally with no foreigners
Activists hold pink umbrellas to shade them from the sun
Many activists held pink umbrellas to shade them from the hot sun

Thousands have attended an annual Singaporean gay rights rally, which foreigners are now banned from attending under new laws.

Only citizens and permanent residents are allowed at the event, which has come under growing restrictions.Estimates suggested the number of those attending had dropped slightly - but organisers said the event was still over capacity.

Gay sex is illegal in socially conservative Singapore.

Foreigners banned as Singapore holds gay-rights rally
People wearing pink and waving a rainbow flag take part in the annual Pink Dot gay pride event in Singapore. (Wong Maye-E, AP)
People wearing pink and waving a rainbow flag take part in the annual Pink Dot gay pride event in Singapore. (Wong Maye-E, AP)

Thousands of Singaporeans dressed in pink packed a city park on Saturday for a gay-rights rally under tight security after the government banned foreign participants.

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

But those taking party in this year's rally, which promotes 'freedom to love', had to show identity cards to prove they were citizens or permanent residents before being allowed into a barricaded zone.

Singapore Gay Pride Rally Draws Thousands Amid New Curbs
A woman holds a rainbow flag at the Pink Dot rally, Singapore's annual gay pride rally, at a park in Singapore July 1, 2017. REUTERS/Darren Whiteside REUTERS

Singapore's annual Pink Dot gay pride rally drew thousands of people on Saturday, despite new restrictions aimed at keeping foreigners out of domestic politics and barricades put up around the rally site.

The rally has been held since 2009 under stringent public assembly laws at Speakers' Corner, an area set aside for demonstrations, performances and exhibitions. But this year, Speakers' Corner was barricaded and participants had to show ID to prove they were citizens or permanent residents before they could enter, with a set maximum taking part.

Under Singapore law, sex between men is punishable by up to two years in jail, though prosecutions are rare. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong told the BBC earlier this year than he was "prepared to live with (the law) until social attitudes change". Foreigners have never been legally allowed to join rallies in the city-state, but many have got around the restriction by "observing" such events.

Annual Pink Dot event held in Singapore's Hong Lim Park

People wave a rainbow flag during the Pink Dot event held in Singapore's Hong Lim Park on July 1, 2017.

The annual Pink Dot event which supports lesbian, gay, bisexual and transexual (LGBT) people was held on Saturday. Supporters light up a rainbow and pink torch lights during the Pink Dot event held in Singapore's Hong Lim Park on July 1, 2017.

The annual Pink Dot event which supports lesbian, gay, bisexual and transexual (LGBT) people was held on Saturday.

Singapore’s Pink Dot Pride event attracts thousands despite government restrictions
The event has attracted thousands

The Pink Dot parade has taken place in Singapore despite restrictions from the Government and attracted thousands of attendees. The parade took place on Saturday in Singapore at Speaker’s Corner.

Thousands attended and the parade attracted capacity-filling numbers despite attempts by the authorities to curtail the event. Earlier this year it was announced that foreigners wouldn’t be allowed into the event.
People were forced to show IDs in order to gain entry to the event and only permanent residents of Singapore were permitted.

The Pride rally also gained record sponsorship despite tough government restrictions aimed at preventing foreigners from attending. The organisers of the Pink Dot Rally raised the equivalent of $183,000 US Dollars from more than 100 companies for the rally.

Despite restrictions and tight security, Singapore's Pink Dot festival was a massive success
Thousands attend Pink Dot, Singapore's Pride: Take a look at the 30 best pictures
Take a look at the 30 best pictures

Singapore’s annual Pink Dot, their Pride event, drew thousands of people to the city today (1 July). Despite new restrictions keeping foreigners out of the event, with barricades around the rally site, many came to celebrate.

Only people from Singapore or permanent residents could attend this year’s Pink Dot – an event which used to attract many foreign visitors. This is due to how only local people can enter Speakers’ Corner. Participants had to show ID to prove they were citizens. An estimated 20,000 people came to the event, a decrease from around 25,000 last year.

Male homosexuality is illegal in Singapore. While it is rarely enforced, same-sex relationships are not recognized under the law, and adoption of children by same-sex couples is illegal. But that didn’t stop all these people celebrating, and making sure they were wearing pink.

Pink Dot SG added 4 new photos 22 June at 19:56

With Pink Dot 2017 returning to its night dot format this year, we can’t be more excited! Here's what you need to know if you are coming down to support the Freedom to Love. Let's make this year safe and fun for everyone.

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For the safety of everyone, there will be security checks conducted at each of the seven checkpoints, including checks on photo IDs and bags. Be it pink or blue NRIC, passport, 11B, driving license or even student concession card, remember to bring the physical card with you. Come early to avoid long queues and to enjoy a meaningful day out at Pink Dot!

If you are transgender, gender non-conforming, coming in drag or are concerned that your appearance does not match your photo ID, our security officers have been briefed to handle this sensitively and appropriately. Otherwise, please approach one of our friendly volunteers for assistance.

Pink Dot 2017 remains a focal point and safe space for LGBT Singaporeans and straight allies to support the Freedom to Love. To help prevent long queues, minimise and consolidate your belongings and picnic items; and avoid bringing sharp and/or pointed objects. Most importantly, bring enough water to prevent dehydration.

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Pink Dot 2017: The voices behind today's event
Pink Dot 2017: The voices behind this weekend's event

I was tasked to present a neutral point of view of the annual rally in support of the LGBTQ community, inclusiveness and the freedom to love.  It was supposed to be a factual piece, to hear from both sides — for and against, and to find out where Singaporeans think we're headed when it comes to LGBTQ rights. But the more I spoke with those most affected, and digested the counter arguments as to why Pink Dot shouldn't be supported, I found it impossible to be impartial. Neutral is not an option in equality. Not when it affects some individuals' lives so profoundly, leaving them open to discrimination and alienation while their opponents experience none of the repercussions, except for the need to work on tolerance.

The common argument used against Pink Dot is that it is not pro-family and that Singapore's society is too conservative to discuss or acknowledge the rights of the LGBTQ community. We have come to these conclusions not through any sort of nationwide surveys, but because of a vocal minority who have emerged over the last few years, following the rise of Pink Dot's awareness and attendance, who speak out against any form of discourse on the matter. The antagonism comes in various forms — from organising a counter Wear White Day, to the astroturfing of Pink Dot's sponsors with unsolicited advice and boycotting threats, to the canvassing of different legislative bodies as the recent spate between ASAS and Cathay Organisation over the Pink Dot "Freedom to Love" tagline was made apparent. Yet dialogue between the two differing camps has never actually taken place in the last nine years. Attempts by the Pink Dot committee to reach out to the Wear White Movement in 2014, and most recently ASAS, went without response.

"I just don't understand why there are certain people who are so obsessed with a group of people whose lives don't directly affect them. Is it not enough that all we want to do is live like everyone else? I don't think it's enough anymore to be neutral or silent, not when there are people being harmed, even killed, just because they're LGBTQ. To be silent is to be complicit. And I'm not just referring to LGBTQ rights, in whatever cause you choose to champion or speak up for, let it be for the betterment of the world and to allow all human beings equality," impassioned Theresa Goh, Singapore Paralympian and one of Pink Dot's 2017 Ambassadors.

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Red Dot for Pink Dot

With the change to the rules governing Hong Lim Park last year, it is unlikely that these corporations, that are not majority owned by Singaporeans, will be able to support events such as this at Hong Lim Park. But more positively, the Singapore Government also clarified that local companies with a majority Singaporean ownership are welcome to step forward to fill the vacuum left by these multinational sponsors. Darius Cheung (CEO of believes that diversity and inclusiveness are values that Singapore companies would support. As such, he has initiated the Red Dot for Pink Dot campaign with the goal of bringing 100 Singaporean companies onboard as sponsors of Pink Dot 2017.

Together with supporters, Carolyn Kan (Founder of Carrie K.) Adrianna Tan (Founder of Wobe), Bjorn Low (Founder of Edible Garden) and other Singapore business leaders, the Red Dot For Pink Dot campaign aims to be the platform where other Singapore business leaders from every industry can lend their support to both inclusiveness and diversity in Singapore.

Pink Dot has always been an event organised by Singaporeans for Singaporeans. As it grew over the last 8 years, corporate support for the event – Singapore’s de facto annual LGBT Pride event – was mainly led by multinational corporations like Google, Facebook, Twitter, Barclays, JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs, BP, Bloomberg, GE, NBCU, Apple, Microsoft, Visa and Clifford Chance.

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Security personnel for Pink Dot tripled ahead of event
The Pink Dot gathering in 2016. TODAY file photo

Amid the heightened security climate, the organisers of this year’s Pink Dot event, which will be held on Saturday (Jul 1), have tripled the number of security personnel.

Over 60 security officers & auxiliary police officers will be deployed, & metal barricades will be put up around the full perimeter of Hong Lim Park. Bag and body checks will be conducted on participants at each of the seven access points.

Ahead of new laws to better protect the public from the growing terrorism threat - which will come into force in a few weeks - organisers of the annual lesbian, gay, bisexual & transgender (LGBT) event are taking no chances to beef up security. “This is the first year that we’ll have bag and body checks. This is to ensure the safety of participants,” said Pink Dot spokesperson Paerin Choa on Wednesday in an interview with TODAY. “We’re living in different times - security measures are a necessity nowadays.”

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Only Singaporeans, PRs allowed to attend Pink Dot 2017: Organisers

Only S'poreans & permanent residents (PRs) will be allowed to attend this year’s Pink Dot, the annual rally held in support of the lesbian, gay, bisexual & 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.

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pink dot 2015 booth

The Humanist Society (Singapore) will once again participate in this year’s Pink Dot event held on July 1 2017 (Sat). We invite you to join us at our booth and picnic as we support the freedom to love!

Only Singapore Citizens or Permanent Residents (holders of Pink or Blue Identity Cards) are allowed to be at the Speakers’ Corner for Pink Dot SG 2017 this year. Please refer to the announcement and latest news (e.g. May 30 Today Online) on this matter.

It is unfortunate that non-citizen members of the Humanist Society (Singapore) will not be able to physically participate in this event. The consequence of failing to comply with the laws will result in yourself and/or the organisers being found “guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $10,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months or to both.” Non-citizen members are encouraged support the event by connecting to Pink Dot SG social media platforms like Instagram and Snapchat as they will provide almost-live updates.

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Singapore: New rules to suppress activism?
"Love is a human right. Regardless of race, language, religion, or sexual orientation." Source: Pink Dot SG Facebook

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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Pink Dot, Speakers' Corner and the Death of Singapore's Only Space for Dissent
Hong Lim Park is dead. Long live Hong Lim Park

When people gather for Pink Dot – the closest thing Singapore has to a gay pride event – on July 1, 2017, they’ll have to celebrate behind a fence, with security at all entrances and exits.

Hong Lim Park wasn’t really that much of a space to begin with. The small public park, also known as Speakers’ Corner, is the only place in Singapore in which people can congregate for speeches, protests, rallies and demonstrations without a permit. But this doesn’t mean that there aren’t rules: this year, foreign entities – such as Google, Facebook, Twitter, or Barclays, all of whom had sponsored previous Pink Dots – are barred from supporting events at the park without a permit. Amendments were made to the Public Order Act also bar foreigners from assembling at Hong Lim Park. If this law is breached, both the foreigner and the organizers of the event could be arrested and prosecuted. The penalty upon conviction has been stipulated as “a fine not exceeding S$10,000 [US$7,228] or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months or to both.”

The logistics of enforcing such legislation is a massive headache for anyone wanting to organize an event at Hong Lim Park. With the passage of this amendment, the government is essentially requiring organizers to ensure that only Singaporeans and permanent residents enter a public park for the duration of their event – a demand that is as onerous as it is unreasonable.

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People wait in line for bag checks at Pink Dot.
Toh Ke Min and Toh Yi Rong, holding pride flags.

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