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Police in tightly controlled Singapore scuttled plans for an all-night Christmas dance party, saying Thursday it would likely be a gay event because the organizers had previously held a ball where most of the revelers seemed to be homosexuals.
Despite tentative steps to loosen its strict social controls, Singapore, an ultramodern city-state of 4 million people, still bans gay sex, defining it as “an act of gross indecency” punishable by a maximum of two years in jail. There have been few prosecutions, however.
A local company, Jungle Media, had planned to hold a party called Snowball.04 at a former disco from 9 p.m. on Christmas until dawn.
But police said in a statement Thursday they had refused to grant a public entertainment license to Jungle Media, following a ball organized by the company this year.
At the previous party, revelers, some of them dressed in the clothing of the opposite sex, behaved inappropriately, police said.
“Patrons of the same gender were seen openly kissing and intimately touching each other,” the statement said. “Patrons were also seen using the toilets of the opposite sex.”
The conduct of the partygoers suggested most were probably gays or lesbians and the event was almost exclusively for them, police said. Some complaints were received.
Police said they do not discriminate against gays because of their sexual orientation, but said Singapore is a “conservative and traditional” society.
“The police cannot approve any application for an event which goes against the moral values of a large majority of Singaporeans,” the statement said.
Activist Alex Au from gay rights group People Like Us said he had no objection to a crackdown on public indecency, but said police appeared to be acting on a vague definition of “acting gay.”
“It seems to imply that there is now a broad ban on any party that is a gay party,” he said. “We hope that is not the case.”