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Google backs Pink Dot SG despite government directive that foreign companies need a permit to sponsor annual LGBT rally

Google is to go ahead with its backing of Pink Dot SG despite a Singapore government directive issued today that international companies need a permit to sponsor the annual LGBT rally at Speaker’s Corner.

Pink Dot SG

News emerged this afternoon from Singapore’s government-friendly newspaper Straits Times that foreign companies have to apply for a permit to sponsor the annual event, or allow their staff to take part.

Pink Dot SG

Pink Dot SG sponsors

Foreign firms supporting Pink Dot in the past have included Google, JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs, Bloomberg and BP, which are among a growing number of global employers to have recognised the need to foster diversity in their employee bases.

Google shared the following statement with Mumbrella this afternoon:

We’ve been proud supporters of Pink Dot since 2011 and we will continue to show our commitment to diversity and inclusion. So we will apply for a permit to support Pink Dot in 2017 if required by this new regulation. We hope that these new rules will not limit public discussion on important issues.

At the same time as Singapore’s Ministry of Home Affairs has applied pressure on foreign companies, it has relaxed regulation for local companies running events at Speaker’s corner. Singaporean firms have typically not backed Pink Dot.

Locally-run Australian-owned hotel Parkroyal on Pickering, which overlooks Speaker’s Corner near the city’s CBD, sponsored the rally for two years, but then did not renew its support. Local production company The Gunnery has long been a supporter of the event, although it is run by a number of individuals some of whom are expats.

The Ministry of Home Affairs defined a Singapore company as “those incorporated or registered in Singapore and controlled by a majority of Singapore citizens,” according to the report in Straits Times. “The entity’s directors must be mostly Singaporean, and the majority of its ownership must be held by Singaporeans or one or more Singapore companies.”

The Pink Dot rally is a political hot potato in Singapore, and global sponsors have controversially met with scepticism from government officials in the past.

In 2014, Chan Chun Sing, minister for social and family development, warned foreign companies against creating “division” with their pro-gay policies in Singapore in a Facebook post that made international headlines. BuzzFeed went with the headline ‘Top Singapore Official Attacks Goldman Sachs Over LGBT Student Event’.

MHA shared the following statement with ST this afternoon: “The Government’s position has always been that foreign entities should not interfere in our domestic issues, especially those of a political or controversial nature. The amendments reinforce the key principle that the Speakers’ Corner was set up primarily for Singaporeans.”

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