Last edited: April 19, 2004

Singapore Bans Gay Activists, April 16, 2004

By Peter Hacker, Newscenter, Asia Bureau Chief

Singapore—The Singapore government is trying to shed its image as one of the most conservative areas in Asia and reinvent itself as a world center for media and the arts, but, that new image does not extend to gays.

The government this week ordered Singapore’s only gay rights organization to disband. The government requires all organizations to be registered. But, when People Like Us, a gay support group, attempted to register itself as an official society or organization, it was rejected.

People Like Us, which says it has a membership of more than 1,000 has been pushing for gay rights, mainly over the internet..

Singapore law bans gay sex putting it in the category of an “act of gross indecency,” although there have been few gay prosecutions.

The government’s Registrar of Societies ordered the group to halt its activities and issued an official statement saying that People Like Us was “likely to be used for unlawful purposes or for purposes prejudicial to public peace, welfare or good order.”

The decision was endorsed by the man in charge of polishing up Singapore’s image.

Singapore isn’t ready to accept gay rights groups said Vivian Balakrishnan the government minister of state for national development.

“The vast majority of Singaporeans are not ready and will not accept the formation of groups who seen to promote gay or alternative lifestyles,” Balakrishnan said

And, he said that banning the group was actually good for gay Singaporeans.

“To stridently go out and campaign (for) the registration of groups like this will actually be counterproductive to these groups at this point in time,” Balakrishnan told a news conference.

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