Journal of Communication Inquiry: It's the Gays' Fault

Saturday, September 6, 2008

This version was published on October 1, 2008
Journal of Communication Inquiry, Vol. 32, No. 4, 383-399 (2008)
DOI: 10.1177/0196859908320295

It's the Gays' Fault

News and HIV as Weapons Against Homosexuality in Singapore

Debbie Goh
Indiana University, Bloomington,

As homosexuality in Singapore is illegal and suffers from social stigmatization, the local media avoided the topic until recent acknowledgment by a top-ranking official of the presence of gays in Singapore opened the floodgates for media publicity. The flourishing underground gay scene triggered the international media to name Singapore as Asia's new "pink" capital. Although it acknowledges homosexuals, the Singapore government still does not condone their activity and public declaration of Singapore as a gay haven spooked the government, who sought a subtle approach to discipline and control the public behavior of homosexuals: through discourse about homosexuality in the national newspaper. Drawing from Foucault's repressive hypothesis on sexuality, this article examines news coverage of the government's blaming of homosexuals for the rise of HIV/AIDS cases in Singapore and argues that Singapore's national daily, in framing homosexuality as promiscuous and contrary to traditional values, served as a platform for the government to reestablish control and subvert homosexuality in Singapore.

Key Words: news framing • homosexuality • control • Singapore • Foucault