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Christmas jeers for Singapore after gay party ban (Agence France-Presse)
15 Dec, 2004

The organisers of a banned gay Christmas party in Singapore that had attracted major international sponsors have hit out at the decision by authorities as an attack on human rights and freedom of choice.

Police last week rejected the application by Fridae.com, which promotes itself as Asia's leading gay website, to host the all-night Snowball.04 party on December 25 on the grounds it was immoral and against the public interest.

The Home Affairs Ministry upheld the ban on Monday after an appeal by Fridae.com, saying public displays of intimate behaviour at the party would be an "affront and unacceptable to the large majority of Singaporeans".

"Fridae is extremely disappointed with the response we have received, which, in the absence of any illegal act, is a blatant show of discrimination against homosexuals in Singapore," Fridae.com chief executive Stuart Koh said in a statement received by AFP on Wednesday.

"In disallowing Snowball to be held, the police department has effectively curbed freedom of choice and the human rights of a minority population in Singapore in the name of conservative social values."

Fridae.com had organised similar Christmas parties in 2002 and 2003, as well as the increasingly successful annual Nation festivals, which have been held since 2001 and attracted more than 8,000 revellers from around Asia this year.

The parties have led to Singapore being recognised as one of Asia's premier gay tourism and entertainment hubs, as well as helped the government in its frequently stated aim of shedding the nation's reputation as a "nanny" state.

Major global brands had endorsed Snowball, with Heineken, Moet and Chandon, Tag Heuer, Qantas and Singapore's Intercontinental Hotel among the list of planned sponsors.

Koh warned the decision to ban Snowball was a setback for Singapore's international reputation.

"The image of Singapore as a progressive nation will be tarnished by such an act of discrimination, and our aspirations of being a global city where diversity is celebrated will be set back by many years," he said.

In its statement announcing the ban, police said gay parties were "contrary to public interest in general".

"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."

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