Asian Economic News: Gays appeal Singapore police ban on annual Christmas event (Dec 9)

Thursday, December 9, 2004

Gays appeal Singapore police ban on annual Christmas event

SINGAPORE, Dec. 9 Kyodo

Singapore's police have rejected an application for a gay and lesbian Christmas party at a nightclub in the city-state, prompting organizers Thursday to condemn the move as ''blatant discrimination.''

''We are in the process of appealing this decision, as we view it as blatant discrimination against the gay community,'' Hong Kong-based, an Asian gay and lesbian media company, said on its website in response to Wednesday's decision by the police.

Fridae had applied for a public entertainment license through its Singapore subsidiary Jungle Media to hold its third annual all-night Snowball party at a Singapore nightclub on Dec. 25.

But this year's application, for the first time, was rejected on grounds that it would be ''contrary to public interest in general,'' according to a police statement issued Wednesday.

''The police recognize that there are some Singaporeans with gay tendencies. While police do not discriminate against them on this basis, the police also recognize that Singapore is still, by and large, a conservative and traditional society,'' the statement said.

''Hence the police cannot approve any application for an event which goes against the moral values of a large majority of Singaporeans,'' it said.

The statement suggested that the same organizer had given false assurances to police in the past that its events, which are essentially dance parties with international DJs, were not organized as gay parties.

At one such event, a ball held earlier this year, ''patrons of the same gender were seen openly kissing and intimately touching each other'' and ''several letters of complaint were received from some patrons about the openly gay acts at the Ball,'' the statement said.

''Some of the revelers were cross-dressed, for example, males wearing skirts. Patrons were also seen using the toilets of the opposite sex. The behavior of these patrons suggested that most of them were probably gays/lesbians and this was thus an event almost exclusively for gays/lesbians,'' it said.

Furthermore, it said, ''a number of couples of the same sex were seen hugging and kissing in public after the event while waiting for taxis and checking into the nearby hotels after the party.''

Fridae's Chief Executive Officer Stuart Koe, in a letter addressed to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, said the rejection came as a surprise as Fridae has had a ''very congenial working relationship'' with police, while its events ''are known to be extremely professionally organized and have earned both domestic, as well as international acclaim.''

''Our events have created an invaluable buzz that Singapore is a hip and exciting city to visit,'' he said. ''We are absolutely certain that nothing about our events are illegal.''

Koe warned that it would be ''unconscionable and a grave mistake to allow intolerance and discrimination to sidetrack and derail our vision of a Singapore that embraces ALL Singaporeans regardless of creed.''

Noting that Singapore is home to hundreds of thousands of gay men and women, he said, ''We form one of the most dynamic, creative and economically productive segments of Singapore's diverse society.''

''We want to live in a country that accepts us as who we are, allowing us the social and civil liberties of conducting our lives in a normal way, just like any other citizen of Singapore.''

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