In a strongly worded statement, Singapore has warned foreign companies not to "fund, support or influence" events that advocate the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) cause, including any events whose purpose is to oppose the LGBT cause.
The Ministry of Home Affairs reminded foreign entities that they should "not interfere in our domestic issues, especially political issues or controversial social issues with political overtones. These are political, social or moral choices for Singaporeans to decide for ourselves. LGBT issues are one such example."
Referring to the Pink Dot event at the Speakers Corner that was held on 4 June 2016, it said that foreigners are not allowed to organise or speak at the events, or participate in demonstrations under the rules governing the use of the Speakers Corner. Pink Dot has held the annual event at the Speakers' Corner since 2009.
In a statement on foreign participation, Pink Dot said: " We hope that our foreign supporters understand our position on this, and continue to support us in other ways in order to further spread our message of equality and inclusivity to their own communities." The company had said the number of corporate sponsors for its 2016 event had doubled to 18.
Returning sponsors included Google, Barclays, JP Morgan, The Gunnery, Goldman Sachs, BP, Bloomberg and Twitter. The new corporate sponsors include Apple, Clifford Chance and Cavenagh Law, Facebook, General Electric, Gravitate, Microsoft, NBCUniversal and Visa, among others.
In a statement issued on Wednesday (8 June), Pink Dot said that it has done all it can "to ensure Pink Dot SG stays within the law." It said: "Pink Dot SG started off first and foremost as a platform on which values of inclusion and diversity are celebrated, and over the years this has only strengthened with the growing support of Singaporeans from all walks of life, including a significant portion of its corporate citizens."
It continued: "Our corporate sponsors that have supported us over the years are all registered and incorporated in Singapore. We are fortunate to count among them admired household names, employers of choice for a sizeable portion of our workforce, inextricably linked with and fully a part of this beautiful fabric we call home."
The Financial Times said the move by the government ministry follows a campaign by conservative activists who have accused multinationals of interfering in Singaporean politics and have even gone further by asking these companies to withdraw their sponsorship of the event.
The newspaper noted that while the authorities do not actively enforce gay sex, there is censorship of gay themes in its state media. Singapore does have gay clubs and bars. However the government has made it clear that Singapore is a conservative society based on heterosexual families.
Barclays issued a statement saying that its partnership with Pink Dot was to show its support for LGBT communities "while respecting local culture and sensitivities." It however did not immediately respond when asked by the FT whether it would sponsor the event next year.
Similarly Google also said that it has been "proud supporters of Pink Dot since 2011" but its spokesman declined to comment further. Goldman Sachs told the FT that it was reviewing the Singapore government's statement while JP Morgan has declined to comment.