Human rights groups slam Singapore for clamp down on foreign sponsorship for Pink Dot

Two human rights groups have attacked the Singapore government over its move to prevent foreign corporations sponsoring the LGBT Pink Dot festival.

A statement issued by Singapore’s Ministry of Home Affairs earlier this month said the government would be taking steps to make it clear that foreign corporations “should not fund, support or influence events held at Speakers’ Corner.”

The statement cited that foreign entities should not interfere in Singaporean domestic issues, political issues or controversial social issues with a political overtones – including LGBTI issues.

Human Rights Watch, a new york based human rights group, sent an open letter to the Singapore Home Affairs Minister following the statement.

“The ministry’s June 7 statement sends a discriminatory message to Pink Dot’s corporate sponsors that they support for the festival is contrary to government policy. This infringes on rights to freedom of expression, which the Universal Declaration of Human Rights guarantees to “everyone,” and pressures corporations to act in contravention of their responsibilities under the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.”

“Your June 7 statement to companies planning to sponsor the Pink Dot festival encourages discrimination, is a threat to the fundamental rights of all Singaporeans, and is a stain on your country’s reputation as a welcome home for international business.”

FIDH, a paris based human rights group, also criticised the singapore government for not accepting nearly half of the 236 recommendations made by the UN with regards to human rights in the country.

Earlier this year, 12 recommendations concerning LGBT rights were made by the UN’s universal Periodic Review of Singapore – a review carried on all UN member states every four and a half years.

The UN urged for Article 377A of the Criminal Code to be revoked – a clause that criminalises sexual acts between men.

The government stated that the recommendations were “not appropriate” and “predicted on unfounded assertions, inaccurate assumptions or erroneous information.”

Karim Lahidji, president of FIDH, said: “The Singaporean government missed yet another opportunity to address many human rights concerns raised by the international community.”

“Singapore can no longer ignore the important civil and political rights that its citizens should enjoy.”

The eighth Pink Dot festival happened at the beginning of this month and drew a crowd of 26,000. The event takes place at Speaker’s Corner in Hong Lim Park – the ‘free speech’ area of the city.

The festival has grown since launching in 2009 and had twice the amount of sponsorship as the year before. Facebook, Apple and Visa joined long time sponsors Google, Barclays and Goldman Sachs.

Pink Dot said that all its corporate sponsors are all registered and incorporated in Singapore.