Singapore May Ease Gay Sex Ban
January 7, 2004
By Peter Hacker, 365Gay.com Newscenter, Asia Bureau Chief
Singapore—Singapore is moving
quietly to reform its draconian laws that made it one of the most repressive
states in Asia. Among the changes being considered is an easing of laws that
prohibit gay sex.
“If we want a more participatory citizenry, the
government will have (to) cut the apron strings and leave more matters to the
private and people sectors,” said deputy Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in a
speech to the Harvard Club Tuesday night.
Only a year ago things such as chewing gum and women’s
magazines were banned in the city state, the richest country in Asia. Oral sex
remains illegal, whether it is between consenting hetero or homosexuals. All
homosexual sex acts are criminal offenses.
“I have no doubt that our society must open up
further,” said Lee, who is also the finance minister and chairman of the
central bank, the Monetary Authority of Singapore.
“We will promote a political culture which responds to
people’s desire for greater participation, in a manner which supports
Singapore’s growth as a nation.”
With an immense conservative Moslem population the
government has moved slowly on civil rights. Nevertheless, few are actually
charged under the gay sex prohibition, and Singapore is becoming a focal point
for gay tourism.
The economically savvy government is anxious to expand
its popularity as a gay destination, and many foreign observers say the quest
for the pink buck has fueled the government’s relaxing of anti-gay laws.
Last year, following a series of articles on gay tourism
in Singapore, Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong said that gays would be allowed to
work in the public service.
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