Singapore woos pink dollar with gay festival (The Telegraph [UK])
7 Aug, 2004
Singapore, where homosexual acts are illegal, will this weekend host what is claimed to be Asia's biggest gay and lesbian festival.
The three-day Nation04 event, which starts today with a party titled "Make Love Not War", is expected to draw in 8,000 visitors.
It comes as the city-state seeks an increasing share of the "pink dollar" of gay tourism revenue, leading a group of activists in Bangkok to launch a lobby group to preserve Thailand's appeal for gay visitors.
"We have large numbers of people coming from Hong Kong, Japan, Taiwan and the United States," said Stuart Koe, the chief executive of the regional gay website fridae.com, which is organising the Singapore event.
"There's nothing else like this in Asia. It's really the only event on this scale."
Singapore is keen to promote itself as an arts and media hub, and has passed some liberalisation measures. Bars can now open round the clock and homosexuals have been allowed to join the civil service.
Gay sex remains illegal, however, and some activists believe that the government is chasing the pink dollar without genuinely embracing tolerance.