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Anti-LGBT tilt taints Singapore commerce

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Participants form a giant pink dot at the Speakers' Corner in Hong Lim Park in Singapore June 28, 2014. The annual Pink Dot Sg event promotes an acceptance of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community in Singapore, according to organizers.   © Reuters

Recent moves by Singapore's government to change its notoriously narrow public order law to further restrict free speech came as no surprise. But the specificity and persistence of the moves by the country's home affairs ministry -- first, in June, a warning to corporations that sponsor a gay-themed gathering, and from Nov. 1 the imposition of a new bureaucratic hurdle for event sponsorship -- is peculiar for a city-state keen on projecting a reputation for welcoming international business.  

The new restriction, which requires companies that are not "Singapore entities" -- meaning they are not incorporated in Singapore and do not have a majority of Singapore citizens on their board -- appears to be aimed at corporate sponsorship of Pink Dot, an annual gathering that, since 2009, has brought together Singapore citizens and permanent residents to express support for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people. Since its inception, the event's organizers have been meticulous in registering the gathering and ensuring that all their announcements and regulations fall within Singapore's public assembly laws.

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