Singapore may ease gay sex ban
January 7, 2004
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
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
"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
"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
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
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