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Singapore not to allow all-gay public parties
Updated: 2004-12-21 13:46

Singapore's government is not prepared to allow all-gay public parties despite greater acceptance of homosexuals in society, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in remarks published.

Revellers at Singapore's Nation Party in August 2004, billed as Asia's largest gay and lesbian festival. Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said his government was not prepared to allow all-gay public parties despite greater acceptance of homosexuals in society. [AFP]

Authorities had to turn down an application by Fridae.com, said to be Asia's largest website for gays, to hold an all-night "Snowball.04 party" on December 25 because "the event is likely to be organised as a gay party which is contrary to public interest," Lee was quoted as saying in the Straits Times.

Previous Snowball parties held in 2003 and 2002 were targeted at gays even though the government, when it gave the go-ahead, sought assurances from organisers that the wider community would be included, Lee said.

"We allowed it and we made it quite clear that it had to be a party which was not targeted at gays alone... As the party turned out, our sense of it was that it was beyond what we were prepared to accept.

"So we said no."

An annual all-night dance party on the resort island Sentosa every August coinciding with Singapore's National Day, organised also by Fridae.com, draws thousands of gays from the region but is open to everyone.

The Sentosa parties have led to Singapore being recognised as one of Asia's premier gay tourism hubs and the government has also taken a more tolerant approach to the gay community, even though homosexual acts are still outlawed.

Under laws dating back to British colonial days and never applied in modern times, anyone found guilty of voluntarily engaging in "unnatural" sexual acts such as sodomy can be sentenced to life imprisonment in Singapore.

"I think it's a matter of balance... of how we can have space for this group of people who are gays, whom we accept as Singaporeans," Lee said.

"But at the same time, it's about respecting the outlook, values and perspective of the majority of Singaporeans, who know Singapore to be a certain way and do not want to see it changing suddenly, and I think they have a point," he said.

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