Last edited: December 19, 2004

Gay Party No-Go ‘A Signal Not to Push Limits’

Sunday Times, December 19, 2004

By Tracy Quek

THE recent police decision to deny a licence for an annual gay Christmas party could be seen as a signal to the homosexual community not to push things too far when it comes to high-profile events that seem to promote alternative lifestyles.

Sociologists, MPs and members of the gay community contacted said events where homosexuals engage in public displays of affection, as seen at last year’s SnowBall indoor party, may have taken the opening up of Singapore a bit further than what the authorities are prepared for.

The party, which was scheduled for this weekend, would have been the third annual Christmas party organised by Jungle Media, the Singapore subsidiary of Hong Kong-based and said to be the region’s largest online gay portal.

Jungle Media had applied for a licence in October and was told by the police on Dec 8 that the application was rejected on the grounds that the event is ‘contrary to public interest’.

The police also said that it does not discriminate against gays but recognises that Singapore is still a ‘conservative and traditional society’.

After the Government said last year that it is open to hiring gays, there has been a on and off debate about the status of homosexuals in Singapore and their rights. Parties organised by and the economic spin-offs of gay events have been widely reported in the media.

Mr Charles Chong, a Member of Parliament for Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC, said: ‘The gay community must realise that in trying to move society at too fast a pace, it may cause a backlash.’

Mr W.K. Chan, 38, a legal counsel, who has attended parties organised by Jungle Media, said it is clear that the authorities are sending this message: ‘We’re fine about gays in society but please don’t shove it down our throats.’

‘It’s a sign to the community to take things slow,’ he added.

But some members of the gay community think that the episode may send out conflicting signals. Why, they asked, was there now a toughening of attitude towards gay activities when Jungle Media had been granted licences for seven parties in the last three years?

Mr Alex Au of gay activist group People Like Us said: ‘It was one step forward when there was talk about being a progressive society and opening up, but this incident is like taking two steps back.’

The police had said last week that they had approved parties such as Nation.04, usually held in August, after receiving assurances that the events would not be ‘organised as gay parties’.

Mr Viswa Sadasivan, who heads The Right Angle Media production company, said: ‘Do we want to emphasise a stance on moral values or be pragmatic? Singapore has become more neutral towards gay lifestyles. Some have used this opportunity to entice the pink dollar. So now what do people take this to mean? That we want your money but don’t want you?’

Other observers such as constitutional law expert Kevin Tan said the denial of a licence could be linked to the recent warning that HIV infections among homosexuals shot up from 54 cases last year to 77 in the first 10 months of this year.

Those who welcomed the police decision, like counsellor Tan Thuan Seng, president of charity group Focus On The Family Singapore, said: ‘We don’t want them to encourage young people who have some degree of gender confusion to make the mistake of going into a gay lifestyle.’

Dr Stuart Koe, chief executive officer of, said the incident would not stop the company from applying for a licence for the Nation party it plans to hold next August.

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