Last edited: August 10, 2004

Thousands at Singapore Pride Despite Ban on Gay Sex Network, August 10, 2004

By Christopher Curtis

Despite a ban on homosexual sex, some 6,000 people showed up last weekend for the start of a three-day gay and lesbian festival in Singapore, making it Asia’s largest gay event, according to organisers.

“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 Web site, which organised the Singapore event.

Called “Nation.04”, the festival features international DJs, go-go boys and an audience that has grown each year since it was launched four years ago.

The first party was called “Make Love Not War,” a politically loaded title considering the government has staunchly supported the US-led war on Iraq and organised protests are illegal without a permit.

“Singapore is making very big moves in liberalising. People here feel a lot more empowered than before to take risks and to speak their minds,” gay rights activist Alex Au told Reuters.

Even thought the government of Singapore has a law that criminalises consensual homosexual acts with up to two years in jail, the government has largely ignored the industry catering to homosexuals in favour of the power of the “pink dollar”.

Organisers believe the event will earn about $10 million dollars. Sponsors include Motorola, Ralph Lauren, Belvedere Vodka, Heineken and Moet & Chandon.

In Singapore, most citizens expect the gradual relaxation in social controls and official attitudes towards the LGBT community to continue.

In January, the government said it planned to review its sex laws. Oral sex will probably be decriminalised, but only between men and women.

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