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Tens of thousands of Singaporeans blanket a field in pink for pride

Singapore's annual LGBTI pride gathering received a massive turnout again this year, with tens of thousands of Singaporeans showing up for the Pink Dot event dressed in pink. 

The parade, in its eighth year, has always been held at Hong Lim Park — a government-designated "free speech" area in the middle of the city — and seen steadily rising attendance over the years. Starting with 2,500 people in 2009, attendance swelled to 28,000 people last year.

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But while attendance numbers have traditionally been the main indicator of Pink Dot's success, this year organisers were notably mum on the headcount, with no official attendance number released. A representative told Mashable that Hong Lim Park had exceeded capacity and noted that all of the 5,000 placards prepared had been given out.

The non-profit group may be reticent on the attendee number for fear of running afoul of the government's park regulations. Singaporeans are restricted from demonstrating in the country, but Hong Lim Park offers precious space in the city state for freer expression.

Still, as the park drew record numbers last year, authorities were watching from the sidelines. In 2015, several foreign attendees were escorted away by the police for participating in the light-up ceremony at the end of the night, one of them told Mashable on condition of anonymity.

She said she had mistakenly stood within the light-up area marked out for citizens, and soon after the ceremony, a policewoman approached her to escort her to the nearby station, where her name and statement were taken down before she was released.

Hong Lim Park restricts participation to citizens or permanent residents. This year, Pink Dot's organisers required people to show their IDs to pick up the placards and posted reminders before the event for foreigners not to participate.

Although being gay isn't illegal in Singapore, there are portions of the law that criminalise sex between men. Section 377A of the law carries a two-year jail term for men who commit acts of "gross indecency" with other men, in public or private.

An effort to repeal the section in late-2014 was rebuffed by the court, which decided to uphold it.

Last year, Singapore's prime minister said he did not think the country was ready for same sex marriage. "There is space for the gay community but they should not push the agenda too hard because if they push the agenda too hard, there will be a very strong pushback," he said.

This year, 18 corporations sponsored Pink Dot, double the nine sponsors from 2015, said organisers.

Sponsors like Google, Barclays, BP and J.P. Morgan were returning sponsors, while new ones like Apple, NBCUniversal, Microsoft, Facebook and Visa joined the picnic this year. 

Google is one of the event's long-running sponsors. It came onboard in 2011, when Pink Dot was in its third year.

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