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Local gay group may re-apply to be registered as a society (ChannelNewsAsia/ TCS 5)
9 Jul, 2003

The Prime Minister's recent revelation that the Government now hires gays, even in sensitive positions, has been welcomed by many Singaporeans - both gay and straight.

And even though gay parades are still taboo in Singapore, at least one local gay group is seeking to be registered.

Pictures from Nation '02 - a party primarily for the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transexual community.

Held at Sentosa last August, it attracted 2,500 people.

A similar celebration is scheduled for next month.

Dr Stuart Koe, Chief Operating Officer of Fridae.com, said: "The event that's going to be held next month at Sentosa, called Nation on the 8th of August is really an event that not only welcome gays and lesbians, but really everybody that wants to come celebrate National Day with the rest of Singapore."

Mr Benedict Jacob-Thambiah, Executive Director of Action for AIDS, said: "It doesn't matter who you are. We all have a right to good clean fun."

But this year's party has been thrust into the spotlight, after Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong told Time magazine that the government has changed its hiring policy towards gays, adding that "We are born this way, and they are born that way, but they are like you and me."

Dr Koe added: "We as a community really welcome PM Goh's statements. It makes us feel that finally the country where we live in accepts us as part of the community and not outcast."

Brother Michael Broughton, Inter-Religious Organisation, said: "They deserve a right to exercise their responsibilities as citizens.

"I'm sure when our Gays and Lesbians come out in Singapore, we'll find that many of them are the ordinary respectable people that we valued so much before we knew of their sexual orientation.

"And I think their coming out should not make any difference to their contribution to society."

The Prime Minister said the change was done without fanfare, so as not to offend conservative Singaporeans.

And gay parades are still taboo. But now that his remarks have been reported around the world, some local gay groups want a legitimate profile.

A local gay group, calling themselves 'People Like Us' plans to meet at the Substation.

Previous applications to be registered as a society and to hold a forum on gay issues were rejected.

But bolstered by the change in policy, the group wants to resubmit its application to be registered.

However, it is still to be seen how far the change in government policy extends.

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