Reuters: Singapore bans gay Web site, fines another

Friday, October 28, 2005

Singapore has banned an overseas-hosted gay Web site after receiving complaints it was recruiting underage boys for sex and nude pornography, and promoting a promiscuous homosexual lifestyle.

The city-state's media watchdog, the Media Development Authority (MDA), said on Friday that it had also slapped a S$5,000 fine on a local gay Web site, titled "Meet Gay Singapore Friends", and warned the operators to remove offensive content.

" The MDA has always adopted a light-touch approach and encourages the industry to practice self-regulation. But in this instance, we received several public complaints and we have to act on the feedback," MDA spokeswoman Casey Chang told Reuters. The banned overseas site -- which saw its membership jump over five times to 330,000 this year from 60,000 a year ago -- contained pornographic pictures and videos, as well as substantial homosexual content focusing on Singapore.

It flashed explicit advertisements recruiting underage boys for sex, facilitated the trading and exchange of nude photos of underage boys, listed places to meet others for casual sex and provided information about organized mass orgies, the MDA said. The local site had nude pictures and videos of gay men having sex which have since been removed. The MDA said both sites had violated the Internet Code of Practice which prohibits Web sites from depicting "nudity or genitalia in a manner calculated to titillate", and host materials advocating homosexuality or pedophilia.

Details of the overseas Web site have been referred to the police for investigations, the MDA said. The legal age of consent for sex in Singapore is 16 and homosexuality is illegal in the wealthy Southeast Asian city-state known for its tough laws and strict social controls.

While the government has said that it does not discriminate against homosexuals, it has stated repeatedly that it would not tolerate an open gay culture, such as hosting gay parades or legalizing homosexual sex, saying that would offend conservative Singaporeans. The MDA currently has a list of 100 banned Web sites -- of which 98 contain pornographic content and two which are deemed to promote religious extremism.