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Gay and Lesbian community parties into Singapore's National Day (Agence France-Presse)
6 Aug, 2001

SINGAPORE, Aug 6 (AFP) - Singapore's usually low-profile gay and lesbian community is planning a "coming out" party this week to coincide with the republic's National Day.

It will be Asia's answer to Sydney's renowned Mardi Gras and Sleaze Ball parties, said William Koh, a 23 year old hairstylist.

"It's about time we had something like that. If other countries can have such parties, why can't we?"

Organizers Fridae, an online Asian gay and lesbian Internet community based in Hong Kong, declined to be interviewed but said on their website: "This is the time to come out and celebrate our strength, individuality …. In Singapore's first ever national pride party."

Homosexual acts among males are illegal in Singapore, but the law makes no mention of same sex activities between females.

Flyers for the August 8 party to be held at Sentosa's Fantasy Island, an offshore water fun park, encourage people to wear red and white, Singapore's national colours.

"You're proud. Of your country. Of your community. Of who you are," they state.

People are flying to Singapore from Hong Kong, Sydney and the United States for the party, according to messages posted on Fridae.com's public forum.

The party attractions are said to include body painting and a foam party, and a "Miss Divastating 2001" beauty pageant.

"Singaporeans, especially the younger ones, are growing more comfortable with the gay lesbian community. Some even prefer to party with us because straight clubs can be so boring," said Koh whose Ritz salon is one of eight retailers selling tickets to the party.

Ten percent of money raised at the party will go to Singapore's Action for Aids (AFA) organization which assists with payment of the expensive medical bills faced by Singaporeans diagnosed with AIDS.

AIDS patients can spend 1,500-2,000 Singapore dollars (830-1,100 US) dollars a month on medication, but can only draw up to 500 dollars a month from the state-managed medical health fund.

The ministry said 1,362 Singaporeans were infected with HIV or AIDS at the end of last year, but AFA puts the figure at nearer 4,000.

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