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.
If found guilty, the organisers and the foreign participant who fail to comply with the regulation shall be liable to a fine not exceeding $10,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months or to both.
Therefore in order not to prosecuted under the law, the Pink Dot 2017 organisers wrote that they have no choice but to adhere to this regulation by having its volunteers to ensure that anyone attending for Pink Dot 2017 is the owner of either a pink or blue identity card.
Thanking its supporters who are not Singaporeans nor permanent citizens and at the same time apologising for “discrimination”, the organisers wrote,
“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.”
Pink Dot is Singapore’s most prominent lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) pride event that has been held since 2009. Just last year, Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) stated that foreign entities should not interfere in its domestic issues, especially political issues or controversial social issues with political overtones and subsequently passed amendments to the law, making it illegal for foreign entities to fund, support or influence events such as Pink Dot SG held at the Speakers’ Corner.
However, despite the negative image that the media and government has painted on supporting such activities by the civil society, 100 local companies have stepped up to take up the financial burden of organising Pink Dot after the withdrawal of its former heavy weight international sponsors such as Google.
The Pink Dot 2017 will be taking place at the Speakers’ Corner on 1 July 2017 (Saturday), please be reminded to bring your pink or blue identification card.
As the announcement may come as a surprise to many frequent supporters of the annual event, Pinkdot prepared a series of FAQs to answer the questions that members of public have on the changes this year
Q: Last year, even though everyone was welcome at the event, only Singapore Citizens and Permanent Residents were allowed to hold up the placards. What’s different this year?
A: Last year, while the regulations governing Speakers’ Corner prohibit foreigners from participating in a demonstration, foreigners were allowed to observe the act of demonstration (the raising of placards). The most recent amendments to the regulations remove this element of demonstration and instead impose a blanket restriction on foreigners assembling in Speakers’ Corner.
Q: Are the organisers joking? Surely it can’t be so serious that foreigners are not even allowed to step onto the park grounds yes? Speakers’ Corner is supposed to be about ‘free speech’ no?
A: We are not joking – this is a serious matter. Speakers’ Corner, as is with many areas in Singapore, is governed by a specific set of rules and regulations. With the amendments made to the rules of Speakers’ Corner last year, the measures taken by the organisers this year are meant to ensure that everyone remains on the right side of the law. Flouting of these laws will subject the organisers, as well as foreigners, to arrest and prosecution by the authorities – something we are sure everyone would want to avoid.
Q: So, what does this mean? How will organisers determine who is Singaporean/PR and who is not?
A: This year, we will have to ensure that anyone who is assembling at Hong Lim Park for Pink Dot 2017 is the owner of either a pink or blue identity card.
Q: What if I am transitioning/have transitioned and I do not look like the photo on my identity card?
A: Do not worry. Our staff on the ground will notify the organisers and a member of the team will be right with you to verify your identity and grant you access to the event.
Q: I am a foreigner and I come down every year to support the event. Where can I go?
A: Thank you for your support over the years and for still making the trip down to Singapore. This year, to ensure the safety of ALL our supporters we kindly request that everyone adheres to the park rules to stay within the laws of the land. We will be livestreaming the event proceedings over Facebook and there will be to-the-minute updates on our Instagram and Snapchat platforms. We invite everyone to support and celebrate the Freedom to Love even if you cannot be physically at the event.
Q: I am a foreigner. What if I still insist on turning up for the event at Speakers’ Corner with my foreign and local friends?
A: 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.” This is something we do not wish on you, or any of the organisers of Pink Dot.