Pink Dot-related events two weeks prior to July 21 rally open to all to attend, including foreigners

The Pink Dot rally in 2017 attracted 20,0000 Singaporeans and permanent residents, and the park was barricaded for the first time. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - 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 for PinkFest on Tuesday (May 22).

The organisation says 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, Pink Dot said:

"This is separate to 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 November 2016, organisers of Speakers' Corner events have had to ensure that only citizens of Singapore or permanent residents of Singapore participate in the assembly or procession.

At last year's rally, which attracted 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. In 2017, 120 local companies 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 the costs," said Mr Choa.

He added: "We want people who are coming for the first time to have the same experience as those who came for previous years' (Pink Dot)."

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