Singapore’s founding leader questions ban on gay sex

Posted on 26 Apr 2007 at 6:20pm
By Associated Press

Proposed legislation would decriminalize heterosexual oral, anal sex, but prohibition against homosexual activity would remain

SINGAPORE Singapore’s founding leader Lee Kuan Yew has questioned the city-state’s ban on gay sex, saying the government should not be the moral police on the issue, a newspaper reported.

“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,” Lee was quoted as saying in The Straits Times newspaper. “So why should we criminalize it?”

Under proposed changes to its legislation, Singapore will decriminalize oral and anal sex for adult heterosexuals, but will keep a ban on gay sex.

The amendments are scheduled to be debated in Parliament later this year.

But Lee, who was prime minister from 1959 until 1990 and remains influential in the current government under the title of “Minister Mentor,” also said the government could not ignore conservative views, the report said.

“I think we pragmatically adjust, carry our people … don’t upset them and suddenly upset their sense of propriety and right and wrong,” Lee told a group of young activists from the ruling People’s Action Party, according to the paper. “But at the same time let’s not go around like this moral police … barging into people’s rooms. That’s not our business.”

“You have to take a practical, pragmatic approach to what I see is an inevitable force of time and circumstance,” he reportedly said.

Lee’s press secretary at the Prime Minister’s Office could not immediately be reached Monday to confirm his remarks.

Gay sex, defined by the Southeast Asian city-state as “an act of gross indecency,” is punishable by a maximum of two years in jail. There have been few prosecutions.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, April 27, 2007.

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