Does it have to come to this?

They've always had a tough time organizing Singapore's annual LGBTQ rally/wholesome picnic year in, year out; whether it's due to backlash from critics and other LGBTQ organizations, or having to deal with the authorities. This year in particular, they had to work around the recent changes to the Public Order Act, which basically disallows non-Singaporean citizens and entities from advocating and promoting political causes in Singapore. The Singapore Police Force wanted foolproof means of making sure of this, which is a daunting task seeing how Hong Lim is an open park. At this point, cancellation was not off the table.

It was already a strain for the organizers last year, when regulations for the Speakers’ Corner barred foreigners from the act of demonstration; they were allowed to attend but not raise the placards. It’s even stricter this year, which raised more problems. Proposals with suggested measures were sent out but to no avail. This was when the organizers thought about cancelling Pink Dot altogether as a form of protest, but decided to push on anyway because of the importance, sole purpose and significance that Pink Dot has in our high-strung country.

Finally, the SPF accepted their final proposal, one which the organizers heavy-heartedly resorted to but don’t agree with—barricades. For the first time in nine years, Hong Lim Park will be barricaded on all sides for the Pink Dot rally. There'll be seven access points around the park, where attendees will be required to have their ICs or passports, and bags, checked before entering, and with 50 security personnel on site ensuring this happens.

Pink Dot spokesperson Paerin Choa said at a press conference on May 30 that this "greatly impacts" the attendees because it means that friends, couples and families will be separated because of the measures in place. In typical Singaporean fashion, anyone caught flouting the rules can be fined up to $3,000. Organizers will have it worse as they could be fined up to $10,000 and/or be jailed up to six months.

At the press launch, the organizers also announced that they will be bringing Pink Dot back into the night on Jul 1, and will be distributing torchlights throughout the event. The blob of pink lights formed as a result should prove to be a spectacular visual treat (and drone photography fodder), if past events were any indication. 

This year's Pink Dot ambassadors are local paralympian Theresa Goh, singer Nathan Hartono and actor Ebi Shankara.

Watch this year's Pink Dot campaign video, co-directed by acclaimed filmmakers Boo Jun Feng and Mak Chun Kit, here.