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28 July 2005

AFP

Singapore's defiant gays and lesbians launch first pride month

SINGAPORE, July 28 (AFP) - Singapore's gay and lesbian community, angered by a police ban on their annual beach festival, defied the authorities Thursday by launching a month-long program of events to assert their place in society.

Singapore's first gay and lesbian pride month -- called IndigNation -- will be held side by side with the city-state's official celebrations of its 40th year of independence in August, organizers said in a press statement.

The announcement came after an annual gay and lesbian beach party called The Nation, which drew international revellers the past four years, was banned by police, forcing it to be moved to the Thai resort of Phuket in November.

Singapore police declared the party "contrary to public interest" in an apparent departure from the gradual acceptance of gays and lesbians into the social mainstream in recent years. Official censors also cracked down on a local gay magazine earlier this year.

"IndigNation is a gay community response to the unreasonable ban on parties for gays and lesbians and heavy censorship of publications serving this community," organizers of IndigNation said on a gay website.

"It is a demonstration of the initiative and spirit of grass-roots civil society that the authorities say they want to encourage, but then go out of their way to suppress."

The IndigNation month's events will include an exhibition of illustrations for children's stories by a gay artist and a talk on same-sex love in classical Chinese literature. Singapore's population is largely ethnic Chinese.

There will also be a reading night with gay poets, a talk titled "Where Queens Ruled" showcasing the history of gay venues in Singapore, and a forum on "Sex and the Christian gay person."

The gay and lesbian pride month closes with a barbecue party on August 26. Organizers said all the events would be "open to everyone regardless of sexual orientation" and they encouraged "heterosexual persons" to attend "so that their perspectives are also heard."

A televised government-sponsored National Day Parade is to be held on August 9, the 40th anniversary of Singapore's separation from Malaysia.

It is expected to include a demonstration of Singapore's military firepower together with an elaborately choreographed evening pageant featuring thousands of schoolchildren, government employees, volunteers and local celebrities.

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This article was first archived on SiGNeL by Alex Au.

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