A planned Christmas party organized by Asia's most popular gay Web site is "against the moral values" of most Singaporeans, police said Thursday as they slapped a ban on the festivities," Agence France-Presse reports. Police also indicated the future of the Nation Party, one of Asia's biggest annual gay and lesbian festivals, held every August, was in jeopardy after complaints about public displays of affection at the last event. "Police's assessment is that the event is likely to be organized as a gay party, which is contrary to public interest in general," a police statement said in regards to the proposed Christmas Day party, called SnowBall.04. "Singapore is still, by and large, a conservative and traditional society. Hence, the police cannot approve any application for an event which goes against the moral values of a large majority of Singaporeans."
Jungle Media, the Singapore subsidiary of Hong Kong-based Fridae.com, had applied to police for a license to organize SnowBall.04 to run all night at a disused nightclub from 9 p.m. on December 25, according to AFP. The police decision was a shock to Fridae.com, which had organized similar Christmas parties in 2002 and 2003 as well as the increasingly successful Nation parties, which have been held since 2001. "In the four years that we have been working with the police...not once have we been made aware that there was anything illegal about our events," Fridae.com's chief executive, Stuart Koe, said in a statement.
But the police said it had banned SnowBall.04 because Jungle Media had previously given assurances the Nation events would not be organized as gay parties. The police statement said this year's Nation was advertised on Fridae.com, and listed a long range of complaints that included revellers cross-dressing and "openly kissing and intimately touching each other." "Future applications for events of similar nature will be closely scrutinized," the statement said.
Koe said Fridae.com had already lodged an appeal for the ban on SnowBall.04 to be overturned. "We are hoping that the Singapore gay community will be allowed to conduct itself like every other citizen of Singapore," Koe told AFP. "It is ironic that gays are allowed to work in the civil service but not allowed to have our own private celebrations."
Gay sex is still outlawed in Singapore, but the government allows gay-friendly facilities and shops to operate in the city-state and for gays to work in the public service. The police ban comes after Singapore's senior minister of state for health, Balaji Sadasivan, said last month that gay men's unsafe sexual practices were the biggest reason for an "alarming AIDS epidemic" in the city-state.