Organisers encourage Singapore gays to attend Phuket Gay Festival
The Phuket Gay Festival will be held from April 7-10 after being put on hold since its original February dates in light of last year's tsunami disaster in December.
More than 300,000 people are thought to have died in the December 26 disaster after massive tidal waves swept across the Indian sub continent to Indonesia and Thailand. The number of dead and missing in Thailand is believed to be over 10,000 but it is estimated that no more than 40 per cent of the dead have been found by search crews in the worst hit Khao Lak area north of Phuket.
Organisers say they are now ready to host the event, and are appealing for overseas visitors to return. The organisers also said in a statement on the web site that they hope "to see many people from Singapore this year as the gay pride there has run in to trouble with the local authorities claiming that this kind of festivities spreads HIV," referring to Singapore's Senior Minister of State for Health, Dr Balaji Sadasivan's comments which linked HIV surge among MSM to the popular annual Nation party held in August.
"Here in Thailand the health authorities' work together with the gay community assured that the best HIV prevention is through information and cooperation," the statement read.
The 4-day event, which includes parties and a bowling and volleyball competition, will culminate in a street parade from Duang Jit resort at 4pm.
Education about gays sparks controversy in Thai schools
A suggestion from an openly gay veteran AIDS activist to include lessons about homosexuality in primary schools has outraged the Thai public. Natee Teerarojjanapongs, who pioneered AIDS awareness campaigns in Thailand some 20 years ago, announced recently on a top-rated TV talk show that he would push for teaching primary-school students about sexual diversity to enhance tolerance and reduce discrimination.
Natee, also in his capacity as an advisory committee member for Bangkok Administration's office, said that by preparing the proposal he had merely wanted to find a way to mitigate the social stigma attached to gay students.
"If people believe that society is not ready to accept the idea of homosexual education, I am willing to try and find other avenues for battling popular stereotypes about gays," Natee said to a local newspaper.
The controversy arose after viewers misinterpreted his message, believing that primary schools all over Thailand had to be compelled to teach a "Gay Curriculum" and that he had won support from Thai gay groups for the effort.
Opinions showed on TV screen during the TV program revealed how little the audience understood the issue. Many people, identified themselves as gay, opposed Natee's idea as he lacked convincing grounds to argue how important it was to educate kids.
Gay rights groups, unprepared for the uproar, later announced the project was purely one man's idea, not from the gay community as a whole. But the move was too late. In reaction to the controversy, a government office put a hold on a project by a local gay organisation, Rainbow Sky Association, which planned to launch a Sports Day event at the government-owned National Stadium.
"His idea hurt us, as it was premature," said a representative of a gay rights group. "We need supporting data and a better strategy in order to proceed. We wish him had made his stance clear and would have been realistic about the social status of Thailand's gay community. We should not go forward too fast, simply to stumble and be ridiculed by the public. Homosexual study for kids that age is too scary for any parents."
Natee is planning to run for a Senate seat representing a district in Bangkok. - Yord
US gay Christian group to confront Focus On The Family
According to organiser, Soulforce, the purpose of the event codenamed "MAYDAY MAYDAY" - an internationally recognised distress signal used to indicate a life threatening situation - to draw attention to the untruths perpetuated by the organisation and its leader James Dobson against LGBT families, and encourage him to "get to know" the children, parents, and friends he condemns with his anti-gay rhetoric.
The organiser hopes for FOF to Dobson and Jim Daly (new president of FOF) to agree to a private dialogue with Soulforce staff and to meet our families at the family picnic right outside the gates of Focus on the Family on May 1. Soulforce claims that three previous attempts have been made to engage in private dialogue with either James Dobson or Jim Daly, and all attempts have been ignored or refused.
While FOF has denied a request by Soulforce for its attendees to tour the facilities on May 2, FOF has proposed a public "panel discussion" on the interpretation of Biblical text concerning homosexuality on April 25 which Soulforce has turned down preferring to a private dialogue session.
Headquartered in the US, Focus on the Family is a Christian organisation with chapters in twelve countries including Singapore, Malaysia and China with a focus on campaigning against same-sex marriage and promoting reparative therapy.
Soulforce has researched and documented false claims by James Dobson about LGBT individuals, couples, and families in a booklet entitled, A FALSE FOCUS ON MY FAMILY: Why every person of faith should be deeply troubled by Dr. James Dobson's dangerous and misleading words about the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community. Click on the link below for more.