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Singapore rejects plan for gay Christmas party (Reuters)
9 Dec, 2004

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Singapore's police have rejected plans by gay activists to hold a Christmas dance party, saying it would be "contrary to public interest".

Jungle Media, a Singapore subsidiary of fridae.com, Asia's largest gay web site, applied for a public entertainment licence on October 20 to hold a party dubbed "SnowBall.04" at a local disco over the Christmas weekend. In a statement released to Reuters on Thursday, the police said it does not discriminate against Singaporeans with gay tendencies but that Singapore was "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," it said.

Singapore has moved in recent years to shatter its prudish image, turning a blind eye to the growth of an entertainment industry catering for homosexuals and hosting a gay and lesbian festival in August that attracted about 6,000 people.

The government revealed last year that gay people now worked in the public service -- a policy shift aimed in part at fostering a creative class.But activists say the change is slow and discrimination against gays is rampant.

"Gays in Singapore are allowed to work in the civil service, including the police force, but are not allowed to hold a private function," said Stuart Koe, a spokesman for fridae.com.

Perhaps the biggest bane for homosexuals in Singapore is a law that still criminalises consensual homosexual acts. Under Penal Code section 377A, acts of "gross indecency" between two men are punishable by up to two years in jail.

The police statement said they had approved previous parties organised by Jungle Media after receiving assurance the events would not be organised as "gay parties".

But it said that during these events, "patrons of the same gender were seen openly kissing and intimately touching each other," suggesting the event was almost exclusively for gays and lesbians.

Police had also received "several letters of complaint" from patrons at the events about "openly gay acts". "Future applications for events of similar nature will be closely scrutinised," it said.

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