Foreigners banned as Singapore holds gay-rights rally

2017-07-01 18:12
People wearing pink and waving a rainbow flag take part in the annual Pink Dot gay pride event in Singapore. (Wong Maye-E, AP)

People wearing pink and waving a rainbow flag take part in the annual Pink Dot gay pride event in Singapore. (Wong Maye-E, AP)

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Singapore - Thousands of Singaporeans dressed in pink packed a city park on Saturday for a gay-rights rally under tight security after the government banned foreign participants.

Singapore's Pink Dot rally started in 2009 and has historically attracted crowds of up to 28 000 despite a backlash from conservative groups in a state where protests are strictly controlled.

But those taking party in this year's rally, which promotes 'freedom to love', had to show identity cards to prove they were citizens or permanent residents before being allowed into a barricaded zone.

They included both gay and straight Singaporeans, families with small children and Muslim women in veils, with many sitting on picnic mats under the scorching sun.

Singapore has long taken a hard line on what it considers foreign interference in domestic politics and has often been criticised by human rights groups for clamping down on political freedoms.

Under a law dating back to British colonial rule, sex between men is technically still a criminal act in Singapore but the statute is not being actively enforced.

Open support for gay rights has meanwhile grown in recent years, aided by changing social norms among the younger generation and a large influx of tourists and expatriates.

Read more on:    singapore

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