Singapore Nixes AIDS Concert Over U.S. Gay Singers
March 23, 2005
By Peter Hacker, Asia Bureau Chief
SINGAPORE—The government of
Singapore is refusing to allow a local AIDS group to hold a fundraising
concert because it would have featured gay pop singers Jason and deMarco.
Safehaven, an AIDS support group, had planned to hold the
concert on April 3.
“Based on the duo’s website and reports of their
performances in the United States, it is assessed that their performance will
promote a gay lifestyle which would be against the public interest,” the
Singapore government said in a statement.
Singapore has one of the lowest HIV/AIDS rates in Asia,
but over the past year the number of new cases rose by 28 percent. A third of
the cases were in gay men.
The government’s ban on the concert followed remarks
earlier this month by a Singapore official who claimed that a gay pride event
last August was responsible for the increase in HIV.
The rejection of Safehaven’s application for an event
permit has angered AIDS and LGBT rights groups who say the concert was a means
of drawing attention to the spread of AIDS within the gay community.
Jason and deMarco are a monogamous couple for the past 5
years and regularly perform throughout the US and Canada.
Jason toued for several years with the Christian
Contemporary recording group TRUTH. DeMarco, who grew up in Canada, performed
in concerts, festivals, and clubs in Los Angeles and across the country.
When the two met, found they had common music interests
and then fell in love, they began performing together.
Last December Singapore police scuttled plans for an
all-night Christmas dance party because they said it would attract a large
number of gays.
Singapore, an ultramodern city-state of four million
people, still bans gay sex, defining it as “an act of gross indecency”
punishable by a maximum of two years in jail. There have been few
prosecutions, however, the city state’s large Moslem community has been
pressuring the government to crack down on gays.
Earlier this week an Anglican bishop in Uganda refused a
gift of more than $350,000 to fight AIDS because the Episcopal diocese in the
US which offered it supported the election of a gay bishop in New Hampshire.
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