Annual gay pride rally Pink Dot may have garnered more support and sponsorships than ever before from local firms (ironically due to a ban on foreign funding) this year, but the encouraging turn of events may have suffered a big setback of late.
The Singapore Police Force recently made it a point to remind the organizers of Pink Dot about the changes to the Public Order Act rules on general assembly: only Singapore Citizens and Permanent Residents are allowed to participate in Speakers’ Corner events. As in, it’ll be illegal for any non-Singaporean to step into Hong Lim Park on July 1 when Pink Dot 2017 kicks off.
The law no longer distinguishes between participants and observers, and it will officially consider anyone who turns up at Speakers’ Corner to be part of the assembly. This shit’s serious — should the authorities find any foreigners on the grounds during the rally, both the organizers and foreigners caught flouting the rule are liable to be prosecuted. The Pink Dot team could face a fine of up to $10,000 and/or six months imprisonment should they be found guilty of the offence.
But really, considering the increased vigilance against non-Singaporeans and non-PRs in events held at Speakers’ Corner over the past couple of months, the announcement shouldn’t come as a surprise to supporters of Pink Dot. The authorities are definitely not making any exceptions, even for a rally as huge and popular as Pink Dot, which has enjoyed increased attendance every year.
It’ll be a highly challenging task to ensure that each and every attendee is a certified local, and it’ll be similarly tough for authorities to hunt down those flouting the rules on the day itself, when there’ll be thousands of people at Hong Lim Park.
Nonetheless, there’ll still be quite a significant number of foreigners (most of ‘em probably regulars, too) who’ll want to show their support for Singapore’s LGBT community. Pink Dot requests that folks “stay within the laws of the land” and show their love by watching the live stream of the rally and staying up to date via Instagram and Snapchat posts.
“We invite everyone to support and celebrate the Freedom to Love even if you cannot be physically at the event,” the organizers wrote.
We’ve reached out to Pink Dot for further comments.