Reuters: Singapore attorney warns of rights "fanatics": paper (May 30)

Friday, May 30, 2008

Singapore attorney warns of rights "fanatics": paper
Fri May 30, 2008 10:23pm EDT

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Singapore's attorney general warned that the concept of human rights must not be allowed to become a religion for fanatics to achieve political goals such as gay marriage, the Straits Times reported on Saturday.

The newspaper quoted Attorney-General Walter Woon as saying that it would be "hypocrisy" for such activists to decide what is acceptable for the rest of society.

"There is a misconception that Singapore officialdom is against human rights," the pro-government daily quoted Woon as saying at a Singapore Law Society event.

"What we are against is the assumption of some people that when they decide what are human rights, it is a decision for the rest of humanity,"

Last year the Singapore government decided to uphold a law that bans sex between men, saying the idea of advocating a homosexual lifestyle was unacceptable to large parts of its conservative society. In spite of the ban Singapore has a thriving gay scene.

Singapore's constitution guarantees free speech, but speaking in public requires a police permit as do public gatherings of more than four people -- a practice that has been criticized by human right groups.

The small but rich Southeast Asian island has been run by the same party since independence in 1965 and political opposition parties play no big role in public life with 82 out of 84 parliamentary seats held by the ruling People's Action Party.

(Reporting by Jan Dahinten; Editing by David Fox)