Events planned in lead-up to Pink Dot rally

The annual Pink Dot rally will this year be expanded to include movie screenings, walking tours and book readings that everyone, including foreigners, can attend two weeks before its flagship event on July 21.

In March, Pink Dot, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, had posted a call for proposals from people who want to organise lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT)-related events to support its cause.

"As we celebrate this important milestone, we want to call on every Singaporean who seeks a more open-minded and inclusive Singapore to stand with us," said spokesman Paerin Choa, in announcing plans on Tuesday for PinkFest. The organisation said PinkFest involves 20 private events, held within private premises. They are put together by individuals, and not Pink Dot.

On its website, Pink Dot lists a series of questions and answers related to PinkFest. In response to whether the new activities are a way to circumvent the ban on foreigners attending the rally, it said: "This is separate from the Pink Dot rally that takes place at Hong Lim Park. Moreover, inclusion has always been the hallmark of Pink Dot.

"We recognise the support many of our foreign friends have given us. PinkFest is a showcase for the community by the community, and our foreign friends are as much a part of this community as we are."

Following changes to the Public Order Act in October 2016, organisers of Speakers' Corner events have had to ensure only citizens of Singapore or permanent residents of Singapore participate in the assembly or procession.

At last year's rally, which drew 20,0000 Singaporeans and permanent residents, the park was barricaded for the first time.

Mr Choa said about 65 local sponsors have so far pledged their support for the cause. Last year, 120 local firms raised some $240,000 but Mr Choa expects a bigger bill this year for the construction of a stage at Hong Lim Park, among other things. "We have to build our own stage, and that has raised costs," he said.

"We want people who are coming for the first time to have the same experience as those who came in previous years."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 23, 2018, with the headline 'Events planned in lead-up to Pink Dot rally'. Print Edition | Subscribe