AFP: Singapore celebs rap to make gay sex legal

Friday, October 12, 2007

Singapore celebs rap to make gay sex legal

Agence France-Presse

SINGAPORE -- Singaporean celebrities are rapping for repeal of a law that makes gay sex a criminal offence.

The celebrities appear in a video posted on the YouTube website in support of a Singaporean legislator's push to repeal a law making gay sex a criminal offence, activists said Friday.

"Repeal it!" the celebrities urge in the video which ends with the words: "It's not just a gay thing. It's about equality."

Member of Parliament Siew Kum Hong will present a petition on October 22 to coincide with debate on the most extensive amendments to the city-state's penal code in 22 years.

The petition urges abolishing part of the penal code that makes sexual acts between males a crime punishable by up to two years in jail.

A bill introduced last month in parliament proposed making amendments to the code that legalize oral and anal sex in private between consenting heterosexual adults.

But the legislation does not address a ban on acts of "gross indecency" between men, which dates back to British colonial rule.

Activists argue in the petition that the proposed amendments discriminate against gay men, violating their constitutional rights to be treated equally.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said last month that heterosexuals should set the social tone in the island republic.

But activists say the petition will raise the level of debate, said Johnson Ong, a spokesman for the campaign to repeal the law.

"As to the actual repeal ... we really don't know," he said, adding he did not know how many people have signed the petition.

Ong said most of the celebrities in the video are heterosexual.

It is not clear how much weight the petition will carry, but dissent is rarely voiced publicly in Singapore.

Singapore has in recent years eased social restrictions in a bid to shake off its reputation as a culturally sterile and ultra-conservative society.

Gay rights activists say authorities have not laid criminal charges in recent years, and gay-friendly establishments are popular with both locals and foreigners.