AU.GAY.COM: Nation Party moved to November 4-6 in Phuket, Thailand--Asia's largest gay party announces new venue and dates

Friday, June 10, 2005

Asia's largest gay and lesbian network,, will hold its signature Nation party -- dubbed a "festival of international proportions" by Time Asia -- in Phuket, Thailand from November 4th through 6th, 2005.

Singapore authorities in April rejected an application to hold Nation, Asia's most acclaimed gay and lesbian party, which had been held annually since 2001 in the city-state to celebrate the country's National Day in August. In a faxed reply, the Singapore police turned down the license citing the event to be "contrary to public interest."

Fridae regrets the Licensing Division's rejection of Nation's license. "We are disappointed that the authorities have deemed a National Day celebration by Singapore's gay citizens as being 'contrary to public interest' when it had previously been approved for four years without incident," said Dr Stuart Koe, Chief Executive Officer. "This is a direct contradiction to previous calls for embracing of diversity."

Despite the Singapore government's attempt to curtail the public space enjoyed by gay Singaporeans and residents, organizers hope for the international gay and lesbian community to come together in creating a new "Nation" -- free from discrimination and welcoming of all.

"The Nation party is evolving with the circumstances," said Dr Koe, "and we hope for it to be truly an event where gays and lesbians from all over the world can come together and celebrate their diversity and take pride in their community." For the first time, the three day event will see gay party organizers from four Asian cities (Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Taipei and Tokyo) involved in co-hosting eight parties to be held back to back over the weekend.

The last Nation party held in Singapore in August 2004 attracted an attendance of over 8,000 party revelers, of which 40 percent were international visitors
. Tourist revenue generated over the three-day event was estimated to be close to US$6 million, based on unreleased data collected by an independent market research company at Nation in 2003.

Since 2001, the Nation parties had grown tremendously and garnered international media attention with extensive coverage by news agencies and leading publications including The Wall Street Journal, Far Eastern Economic Review, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Advocate, Time magazine and BBC radio.

Nation V is sponsored by Fortune 100 global communications leader Motorola for the second consecutive year and Subaru for the third. The carmaker is a well-known pioneer corporate sponsor of gay and lesbian athletic and community events in the United States and is represented by Motor Image in Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Hong Kong and the Philippines.
" We are very disappointed that the government is sending a very strong signal that a big minority of its population is not welcomed. That is very homophobic," Koe told Reuters.

Singapore's gay community has only recently enjoyed greater freedom after former premier Goh Chok Tong announced in 2003 that homosexuals could hold key positions in the civil service without fear of discrimination. But the gay community has come under fire in recent months after a junior health minister in Singapore said a gay and lesbian festival in August last year may have led to a surge in the number of local AIDS cases, a remark that outraged gay activists.

Although Singapore has one of Asia's lowest levels of HIV infection, the number of new infections hit a record high of 311 cases in 2004, up 28 percent from 2003. A third of the newly diagnosed cases were gay men, the health ministry has said. Gay activists say the remaining two-thirds appeared to be heterosexual men who caught the illness from prostitutes in nearby Southeast Asian countries, such as Indonesia's Batam island, which is just an hour's boat ride from Singapore.

In March, the government rejected an application for an AIDS concert
, citing concern over its gay performers. In December 2004, police threw out plans by gay activists to hold a Christmas dance party, saying the event went against the "moral values" of a large majority of Singaporeans.