AFP: Singapore minister upholds ban on gay Christian concert

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Singapore - Singapore's information and communications minister has upheld a ban on a planned weekend concert organised by a local gay Christian support group, the media industry regulator said Wednesday.The Media Development Authority (MDA) said Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts Lee Boon Yang supported its earlier decision to deny a permit for the Affect05 concert scheduled for Sunday, to protect public interest. " The minister has carefully considered the appeal for the licence application for Affect05 and has decided to uphold the MDA's position that such performances that promote alternative lifestyles are against the public interest," MDA said in an e-mail to AFP.

Susan Tang, spokeswoman for the concert organiser Safehaven, said the group was disappointed with the rejection of their appeal. The MDA said last week it turned down Safehaven's application for a permit after reviewing past performances of the main performers, a Los Angeles-based Christian gay couple named Jason and deMarco.

" 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 MDA said at that time. Safehaven, which lodged the appeal, has said the aim of the concert was to raise funds for HIV/AIDS sufferers in Singapore and promote awareness of the illness.

Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome is an incurable condition which is passed on by having unprotected sex, among other causes. HIV is the virus that causes AIDS. Singapore's gay and lesbian community has protested comments earlier this month by a senior health ministry official who said a sharp rise in new HIV infections could have been caused by an annual gay and lesbian party held in the city-state.
The annual Nation Party on Sentosa island is a key date in Asia's gay festival calendar.

A record 311 people in Singapore contracted HIV last year
, 28 percent more than in 2003, Senior Minister of State for Health, Balaji Sadasivan said. He said 90 percent of the people who contracted the virus last year were men, a third of them gay. There are now more than 2,000 HIV-infected or confirmed AIDS patients in Singapore, which has a population of about 4.2 million people including resident foreigners.