The organizers of Singapore’s Pink Dot gay pride rally have asked foreigners and those who are not permanent residents of Singapore to stay out of this year’s event. The measure comes on the heels of rule changes aimed at keeping foreigners out of domestic issues.
Foreigners have never been legally allowed to participate in a rally, but many have got around the restriction by “observing” such events.
"We were reminded by the Singapore police force that with these changes, the law 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," Pink Dot said on social network Facebook on Sunday.
"Flouting of these laws will subject the organizers, as well as foreigners, to arrest and prosecution by the authorities – something we are sure everyone would want to avoid."
The ministry beefed up law years on public assembly last year and said that the prevention of interference in domestic politics by foreign entities has always been Singapore's position since the public speaking rules were introduced in 2000.
In last October, the ministry posted new public speaking rules. It said that the foreign companies and individuals must have a permit to sponsor or take part in certain events.
"This approach is consistent with the government's long-held position that foreigners and foreign entities should not engage in our domestic issues, especially political issues or controversial social issues," the Ministry of Home Affairs said in a statement to Reuters.
The government does not seek to "proscribe" such events, it said, adding: "Local companies can fund and indeed more local companies have come forward to fund and support the event this year."
Multinational companies such as Google, Facebook and Twitter formerly sponsored the rally that has been held since 2009 at Speaker's Corner in a downtown square, where citizens can speak their minds without a permit.
"The Singapore government’s knee-jerk approach to limit human rights at the first sign of controversy is really on display here," Phil Robertson, deputy director of the Asia division of Human Rights Watch, 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 and non-discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity."
Sexual relation between men is illegal in Singapore and is punishable by two years imprisonment, though the law is rarely enforced.