Asian Gay and Lesbian Network Slams Singapore's Gay Sex Prohibition

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Singapore's law prohibiting gay sex is hampering HIV prevention efforts among homosexual men, an AIDS education group said Sunday. Stuart Koe, head of the Fridae Asian gay and lesbian network, rejected recent remarks by Minister of State for Health Balaji Sadasivan, who said advocacy groups like Action for AIDS were "not doing enough" to fight the disease. "Since gay sex is illegal, how then can any agency or organization in Singapore promote safe sex among men ... without being complicit in abetting illegal activity?" said a statement on Fridae's Web site.

Singapore defines gay sex as "an act of gross indecency" punishable by a maximum of two years in jail. Prosecutions, however, are rare.

Koe said the government's AIDS awareness campaign has neglected the threat to gay men. "Singapore's public health service has systematically ignored and left [gay men] out of all of its public health messages," he said. Previously, health ministry officials have said the AIDS campaign does not promote condoms out of respect for residents who hold conservative views on sex.

Singapore AIDS activists called on authorities to fight an "alarming" rise in HIV infections among gay men. Ministry statistics show HIV infections among men who have sex with men rose from 12 cases in 2000 to 40 cases in 2003. Seventy-seven new HIV cases were reported among gay men in the first 10 months of 2004.