‘Hong Lim Green’ to turn somewhat pink

Source: The New Paper
25 September 2008

‘Hong Lim Green’ to turn somewhat pink

Organiser plans gay pride parade at Speakers’ Corner
By Andre Yeo

Lisbon Pride

Lisbon Pride

HONG LIM Park (once called Green) is open for demos of all shades and hues (except unlawful ones, of course).

So it is no surprise that the gay lobby here wants to use it in November to make a statement.

Riding on the new, relaxed rules on protests at the park’s Speakers’ Corner, Mr Roy Tan, 50, is planning a gay pride parade. But the response to it has so far been uncertain.

Mr Alex Au, 55, one of the leaders of gay advocacy group, People Like Us, likes the idea but he questions if it should be called thus.

He said: ‘I am sceptical of calling it a parade if they can’t walk down the streets. A parade requires linear movement.’

Ms Jean Chong, 32, a lesbian who is self-employed and also from People Like Us, said she was aware of the parade but was not sure if she would be attending.

She told The New Paper: ‘I think most of them (the gay community) are standing on one side and thinking about it.

‘Most don’t see Hong Lim Park as a big step towards more freedom. It’s a form of tokenism.

‘On the one hand, they feel they want to support it (the parade). But, on the other hand, they are against the concept of Hong Lim Park because you should have the right to demonstrate anywhere.’

Following Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s National Day Rally speech to slowly liberalise the political scene here, rules were changed such that from 1 Sep, public demonstrations can now be held at Speakers’ Corner as long as they do not touch on race or religion.

Organiser Mr Tan, 50, who works in the healthcare industry, said: ‘I thought it would be good for someone to organise the first pride parade and, hopefully, it would be the first of many and be part of the cultural landscape.’

Mr Tan said that even if he were the only one at the park for the event, he would march round the place holding a placard on Section 377A – a section of the penal code that criminalises gay sex.

Mr Tan said he would be marching three times round the park singing We Shall Overcome, a civil rights anthem, to represent the struggle for equality.

He expected people to come but he did not think many would be marching.

He said: ‘Many people are not prepared to do it at the moment. The first step is the most difficult one.’

The management of Speakers’ Corner used to be under the police, but now comes under the National Parks Board (NParks).

Demonstrators only need to register on the NParks website.

Yesterday, an NParks spokesman confirmed that it had received a registration for a gay, lesbian, bisexual and transsexual pride parade at the Corner on 15 Nov.

It is slated to last from 3 to 7pm.

According to the NParks website, Singapore permanent residents can also take part in a demonstration at Speakers’ Corner and are required to apply for a police permit only if they want to organise a demonstration themselves or to speak at the Corner.

Foreigners will have to apply for a permit to conduct or take part in any activity at the Corner.

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