Singapore bans
one of Asia's largest annual gay parties

Singapore has
banned one of Asia's largest annual gay-themed outdoor
parties because it is "contrary to public interest," police
said on Wednesday. The decision came a few months
after a senior official in this tightly controlled
Southeast Asian island nation blamed such parties for
the rise in HIV infections among gays. Hong Kong-based Fridae.com, an Internet-based
community of gays and lesbians in Asia, had applied
through its Singapore subsidiary, Jungle Media, for a
permit to hold its annual "Nation" beach party in
August. But the application has been turned down because
"police 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, without
elaborating. The past four "Nation" parties were held
in Singapore. At least 8,000 revelers attended the last one,
generating an estimated $6 million in tourist revenue,
organizers say. On Fridae.com's Web site, organizers said they
would hold this year's three-day "Nation '05" on
Thailand's resort island of Phuket instead. In March, Singapore's junior health minister,
Balaji Sadasivan, suggested that a rise in HIV
infections among gays in Singapore was linked to
gatherings like the "Nation" parties, which, he said,
"allowed gays from high-prevalence societies to fraternize
with local gay men, seeding the infection in the local community." Fridae.com chief Stuart Koe said on the Web site
that he was disappointed by Singapore's rejection of
the license application. "This is a direct
contradiction to previous calls for embracing of diversity,"
he said. Singapore, a country of 4 million people, has
taken some steps to loosen its notorious social
controls. But it bans gay sex, defining it as "an act
of gross indecency" punishable by a maximum of two years
in jail. There have been few prosecutions, however. The
number of new AIDS cases in Singapore reached 311 in
2004, nearly 30% more than in the previous year. (AP)

Tags: World, World

From our Sponsors

READER COMMENTS ()