Singapore’s gay pride rally has won sponsorship from a record number of companies, despite tough government restrictions aimed at preventing foreigners from attending.
The organisers of the Pink Dot Rally have raised the equivalent of $183,000 US Dollars from more than 100 companies for the rally, due to be held on July 1st at ‘Speaker’s Corner’ in a downtown park.
This is a huge increase on the 18 companies who contributed last year, 13 of which were multinationals like Alphabet Inc’s Google and Facebook.
Sex between men is still illegal in Singapore, although prosecutions are rare.
Singapore’s government announced just days after last year’s successfully rally that foreigners would not be allowed to attend or sponsor the event.
Singaporean law prevents foreigners from participating in political rallies, but they have generally got around the restriction by claiming they are simply “observing” the event.
But changes to the law announced in October removed the distinction between “participants” and “observers”, organizers said, leaving them “no choice” but to bar foreigners.
Revellers traditionally attend the event, which has been held since 2009 and generally attracts crowds of up to 30,000 people, dressed in pink and shining flashlights.
Singapore resident Adeline Yeo told Reuters she was disappointed that she would not be able to attend the event with her girlfriend, who is from Poland.
“I feel let down … we were looking forward to attending together,” she said.
“But this has definitely made [the LGBT community] stronger,” she said.
“It’s all the more reason to pull all your friends and colleagues together for the Pink Dot.”
Many Singaporean LGBT advocates feared that the tough new government rules would kill off the Pride event altogether, with the loss of sponsorship from international firms like Facebook, Apple, Google and Visa seeming to throw event into doubt.
LGBT advocates will be cheered by today’s news that the event will go ahead anyway.
Darius Cheung, a Singaporean executive who led the funding drive, told Reuters that most of the sponsors are small and medium-sized enterprises.
“The more important part is to engage local companies to finally cement the position that the LGBT community is very well respected and accepted here – and I think we did it,” Cheung added.