Last edited: April 18, 2004

Singapore Denies Association Rights to Gay Support Group, Orders to Cease Activities

Associated Press, April 7, 2004

By Gillian Wong

SINGAPORE—The Singapore government has denied freedom of association to a gay advocacy group and warned it to halt all activities, the group said Tuesday. The organization, People Like Us, has demanded that the government explain why it considers a support and advocacy group for gay people “unlawful, prejudicial to the public peace” and “contrary to the national interest,” co-founder Alex Au said. “The world can rightly perceive Singapore to be an intolerant place that’s refusing to move with the times,” Au said. The government warned in its formal rejection notice that the group must cease all activities, warning that members of unregistered societies face heavy punishments under the law, Au said. However, it did not specify the penalties. The Home Affairs Ministry was not immediately available for comment. The group tried to register as a society in 1997 and was also refused, Au said. The group would follow the government’s instructions and not hold further meetings, but as individuals they will continue to argue for equal rights, he said. The group will also appeal the decision to the home affairs minister, he said. People Like Us—which claims a membership of more than 1,000—has been using the Internet to push for gay rights in the tightly controlled city-state. Singapore bans gay sex, defining it as “any act of gross indecency”—that is punishable by a maximum two years in jail—but there have been few prosecutions of homosexuals and Singaporeans are largely tolerant of gays.

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