Thu, May 02, 2002 - Page 2 News List

Blackmailers stalking gay men at beach hideaway

STAFF WRITER

As Taiwan's homosexuals have become more open about their sexual orientation, some in the gay community have turned an abandoned beach resort -- located in Tamshui (淡水) Township, Taipei County -- into the nation's biggest "nude camp," local media reported yesterday.

But due to a spate of blackmailings, however, all is not well at this gay sanctuary.

Sha Lun Beach (沙崙海水浴場) in Tamshui was once a run-of-the-mill beach resort open to the public from mid-May to mid-October every year. But after the resort was abandoned several years ago, the secluded spot began to attract gay men from across the nation.

Many gather there to socialize, while others sunbathe or go swimming in the nude.

According to local media, some of the men engage in sexual congress either behind bushes that surround the area or inside lookouts that remain on the beach.

"This is a heaven for gay men," said A-Kai (阿凱), a young Taiwanese man in his twenties.

"I'm here to completely liberate myself and I don't care about what people think," added the man, who was taking a walk on the beach -- wearing nothing but his sandals.

Since the news has largely spread over the Internet, the beach -- just like the 228 Peace Park in downtown Taipei -- has become a "sacred land" for male homosexuals.

But this new "sacred land" has become clouded by fear -- a fear that gays at the beach are being targeted for blackmail.

Blackmailings that have thus far come to light all began under similar circumstances.

The victim is approached by a man while alone at the beach. After striking up a conversation -- with the victim responding positively to the man's friendly overtures -- a group of three or four other men appear, threatening to reveal the victims' sexual orientation while demanding that he turn over his wallet or ATM cards.

Fearing exposure, the victims usually obey the blackmailers' instructions and seldom report the incidents to the police.

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