Pink Singapore reforms laws but gay sex still illegal

Monday, September 17, 2007

Singapore reforms laws but gay sex still illegal
17th September 2007 14:10 writer

A bill introduced to the Singaporean parliament today will legalise oral and anal sex in private between consenting straight adults.

However the ban on "gross indecency" will remain in place and male homosexuals still face a maximum of two years in prison for gay sex.

The new legislation will also create new offences relating to sex tourism and child prostitution.

The authorities have not brought anyone up on charges of gross indecency for several years.

The city state of nearly five million people is renowned for its draconian legislation.

Chewing gum is illegal and the police keep a close watch on public behaviour.

In July veteran actor Sir Ian McKellen urged the country's government to ditch draconian colonial-era laws on gay sex while touring the country with the Royal Shakespeare Company.

In a promotional interview with a local radio station, he said:

"Just treat us with respect like we treat everybody else and the world will be a better place, I think.

"Coming to Singapore where unfortunately you've still got those dreadful laws that we British left behind... it's about time Singapore grew up, I think, and realised that gay people are here to stay."

In April one of the most influential politicians in Singapore spoke out against laws banning sex between men.

Lee Kuan Yew was Prime Minister from 1959 to 1990, and remains a powerful figure in the country.

In an interview with the Straits Times, Mr Lee talked about the theory that homosexuality is genetic.

"If in fact it is true, and I have asked doctors this, that you are genetically born a homosexual - because that's the nature of the genetic random transmission of genes you can't help it. So why should we criminalise it?"

Under his premiership and the two Prime Ministers that succeeded him, the Singaporean authorities have banned gay films and public displays of homosexuality such as Pride events.