Singapore Bans Foreign Visitors From LGBT Event

(Picture: SG Magazine, 2013)

Known as the only truly “gay” event in Singapore, the Pink Dot Party will be hosted on July 1st in the ASEAN financial capital. However, it will be banned for foreigners who are not living in the city, warned organisers of the event.

Only Singaporeans and Permanent Residents (PRs) will be allowed to attend the annual Pink Dot gathering, to be held at Hong Lim Park, event organisers said last Sunday. The decision was taken as Singapore last year decided to amend the Public Order Act, which came into effect last November. Last year, following the Pink Dot, which was supported for several years by many foreign companies such as Google, Barclays, JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs, BP and last year by Apple and General Electric.

In a rather curious statement, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) indicated that foreign companies should not interfere in Singapore domestic affairs. “The Government’s general position has always been that foreign entities should not interfere in our domestic issues, especially political issues or controversial social issues with political overtones. These are political, social or moral choices for Singaporeans to decide for ourselves. LGBT issues are one such example. This is why under the rules governing the use of Speakers’ Corner, for events like Pink Dot, foreigners are not allowed to organise or speak at the events, or participate in demonstrations.”

The ministry said at that time that  it would make clear that foreign entities should not fund, support or influence such events and the new amendment stresses the change.

In a Facebook note on Sunday morning, Pink Dot’s organisers said they had received a reminder from the Police that the changes in the law meant that it “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.”

The organisers added that they “have no choice but to adhere to this regulation, as organisers and foreigners caught flouting this rule are liable to be prosecuted”.

Individuals caught illegally participating in Speakers’ Corner events can face a fine of up to S$3,000 for their first offence and up to S$5,000 if found to be repeat offenders. If found guilty, organisers could face a fine not exceeding S$10,000 or a jail term not exceeding six months or both. Organisers will check IDs of participants.

Of course, the new regulation is totally banning sponsoring from foreign companies. Last year, Pink Dot organisers indicated that sponsors were all Singapore-registered companies.

In previous Pink Dot events, foreigners were allowed to assemble at Hong Lim Park but not to participate. They were, however, able to observe from the sidelines.

Acknowledging that the new law “directly impacts and separates individuals with partners, friends and family who might not be Singapore Citizens or PRs”, the organisers said “this was a decision that was taken out of our hands” and that they were “just as upset by this”.