The world’s biggest gathering of gay and lesbian scuba divers is coming back to the Asia-Pacific for only the second time in its 16-year history.
Diving For Life, an annual scuba “jamboree” that attracts up to 150 divers, will take over a dive resort on Phi Phi Island, Thailand, for the 2008 event.
Sydney Underwater Bushwalking Society (SUBS) divers returning from the 16th annual DFL in Belize were excited by news that organisers will bring the event back to the Asia-Pacific. DFL’s only other venture to this part of the world was for a week of diving in Fiji in 2004.
SUBS committee member and DFL regular Matt Kaine said SUBS had lobbied hard to make jamboree more accessible to Australian divers.
“After the success of the Fiji trip we have been lobbying DFL to give our part of the world another go,” he said. “It is great that they are coming back.”
Another SUBS diver making plans for Phi Phi, Sophie Symeou, said, “The fabulous thing about DFL is the good mix of dykes and poofs – or men and women to keep the tone a little more refined – which adds considerably to the camaraderie of the event.”
The annual event is a major fundraiser for HIV/AIDS and gay health organisations. SUBS’s participation since 2004 has resulted in more than $6,000 being donated to HIV/AIDS charities in Sydney and Fiji.
“We are also looking for donations of prizes to be raffled during the event at Phi Phi to raise money for HIV/AIDS charities,” Kaine said.
In total, Diving For Life’s annual diving trips have raised US$520,000 for charity since the group was founded by dive enthusiast Patrick Kelly in 1992. This year’s auction and raffle raised around US$60,000.
Kaine said items donated by SUBS created a bidding frenzy.
SUBS is urging other Australian and Kiwi divers to consider joining them at DFL in 2008. “It’s a great week of diving and fun, so it would be good to see a big contingent of Aussies at Phi Phi,” Kaine said.
DFL 2008 at Phi Phi, off Phuket in southern Thailand, will run from 18 to 25 October 2008. Registrations for DFL 2008 open on 2 January 2008. Details: [email protected] For details of SUBS’s diving around Sydney and NSW in 2007-08, check out the club’s website at www.gaydive.org.au.

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