TNP: 'Hong Lim Green' to turn somewhat pink (Sept 26)

Friday, September 26, 2008

'Hong Lim Green' to turn somewhat pink
Organiser plans gay pride parade at Speakers' Corner
HONG LIM Park (once called Green) is open for demos of all shades and hues (except unlawful ones, of course).
By Andre Yeo
26 September 2008

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

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.