Pink Dot is Singapore’s annual LGBT Pride rally, annually attracting thousands of participants and spectators to Speakers’ Corner in Hon Lim Park. But this year, organizers are telling foreigners to stay home.
They’re hoping to avoid running afoul of new regulations on keeping foreigners out of domestic politics. Non-residents have never technically been allowed at demonstrations but have often attend anyway, claiming to just be onlookers and avoiding holding signs.
But the conservative the city-state has started to cracked down and, in October, changes to the Public Order Act removed the distinction between onlookers and participants.
On Facebook, Pink Dot producers said police told them they “regard anyone who turns up to the Speakers’ Corner in support of an event to be part of an assembly,” leaving them “no choice” but to bar foreigners at the July 1 event.
“Flouting of these laws will subject the organizers, as well as foreigners, to arrest and prosecution by the authorities,” they added. “Something we are sure everyone would want to avoid.”
Homosexuality is illegal in Singapore, though the law is rarely enforced. Previously, Pink Dot benefited from generous funding by multinational sponsors like Twitter and Google, which are now prohibited from financing the event under the same restrictive law.
“Nationality shouldn’t matter when it comes to being able to attend a rally,” Human Rights Watch’s Phil Robertson told Reuters. “Singapore is doing all it can to truncate international support for the rapidly growing movement of Singaporeans who support lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights,”
Attendees at the Pink Dot celebration gather to form a giant “pink dot” in support of diversity, inclusiveness and the freedom to love. It has inspired numerous LGBT events in other parts of the world under the Pink Dot umbrella .