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SINGAPORE - Oct 6, 2005

Singapore will not allow gay parades to be held in the city-state because it clashes with the views of many conservative Singaporeans, the prime minister said on Thursday.

Homosexuality is illegal in Singapore and the government has outlawed some gay events in the past, prompting activists to accuse the authorities of being homophobic.

"I don't think we're homophobic. I agree...that homosexuals are people like you and me. But there's some segment of Singaporeans who vehemently disagree with that and we have to be aware of that," Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in response to a question at a Foreign Correspondents Association lunch.

Singapore has moved in recent years to shatter its prudish image, turning a blind eye to the growth of an entertainment industry catering for homosexuals and hosting a gay and lesbian festival that attracted about 6,000 people last year.

But Lee said he did not want to see gays parading on streets because it would offend conservative Singaporeans.

"Gay pride -- well, you can do that in Sydney, in London, in San Francisco [and Bangkok, Tokyo, Taipei, Hong Kong, Manila, etc. - Utopia ]. But I'm not sure if I want to do that in Singapore.

"I think it would be offensive to a large number of Singaporeans and will be very divisive. And I think from a government's point of view therefore, it is not a wise thing to do."

(Reuters)


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