December 14, 2004
In a letter dated 13 December 2004, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) rejected an appeal to overturn a rejection of Fridae's application for Snowball.04. The event was intended as a Christmas celebration for the Singaporean gay and lesbian community, as well as many hundreds of tourists expected to travel to Singapore for the event.
Fridae is extremely disappointed with the response we have received, which, in the absence of any illegal act, is a blatant show of discrimination against homosexuals in Singapore.
Over the years, Fridae has successfully created an environment for gay, lesbians and other friendly citizens and visitors to socialise in a controlled and private environment with minimal disruption to public peace. Good progress has been made, in creating professionally organised events for gays and lesbians to meet, with consultation with police officials in regards to public order.
These events contribute to fulfilling the basic social needs of our community. Curbing the efforts of private enterprises to do so amounts to telling gays and lesbians they have no place in this country. What this decision means is that whilst gays may work for the Singapore civil service, they are however banned from having any private celebrations.
Fridae finds the rejection in granting of a licence for the party poorly justified. Considering that the police have approved of seven prior applications and been present at every event we have organised, it is unlikely that the police can claim ignorance of the nature of these events. Furthermore, as none of the reasons given by the police breach any known law in Singapore, there is no legal basis for such a ban.
In disallowing Snowball to be held, the police department has effectively curbed freedom of choice and the human rights of a minority population in Singapore in the name of conservative social values. Furthermore, a ban on moral grounds amounts to imposing one set of values on others who may not share them.
Is Singapore facing a dilemma in its pro-business stance now that "morality" comes into the picture? And will this "morality yardstick" be applied to other businesses in Singapore?
This decision is a contradiction of what our Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong envisioned for Singapore, namely, an "open society which is welcoming of talent, which welcomes diverse views, yet is cohesive and has a sense of common purpose."
The image of Singapore as a progressive nation will be tarnished by such an act of discrimination, and our aspirations of being a global city where diversity is celebrated will be set back by many years.
Despite this disappointing setback, Fridae will nevertheless continue to work with the relevant authorities to seek consensus between private groups and public agencies to promote full integration of gays in Singapore society. We remain steadfast in our convictions that gays and lesbians are productive members of society, and deserve to be treated equally under our constitution. Any policy that is seen to be divisive, deepen segregation or suppress a minority group will only do lasting damage to our national morale.
SnowBall/Meltdown ticket holders who purchased their tickets(s) online will have the amount automatically credited through their credit card by December 20. Ticket holders who had bought their tickets through a retail outlet should return to the store from December 14 to December 30 to get a cash refund. Fridae regrets any inconvenience this may have caused our patrons, especially those visiting from overseas.