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ASIA - Apr 23, 2007

Singapore's Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew, acknowledging the view that some people are genetically destined to be homosexual, has questioned the city-state's ban on sex between men.

"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?" he said to 400 Young People's Action Party members on Saturday.

Lee said Singapore should no longer pursue homosexuals. He said authorities must take a pragmatic approach.

"Let's not go around like moral police ... barging into people's [bed] rooms. That's not our business," he said. "So you have to take a practical, pragmatic approach to what I see is an inevitable force of time and circumstances."

In November, the Ministry of Home Affairs said it was considering decriminalising oral and anal sex between consenting heterosexual adults, but not between homosexuals. The authorities have banned gay festivals and censored gay films, saying homosexuality should not be advocated as a lifestyle. But, despite the official ban on gay sex, Singapore has a thriving gay scene.

Lee's comments come at a time when many groups, such as Singapore's Law Society, are clamouring for a review of [lingering British Colonial] laws against homosexual sex, which they view as outdated and archaic.

--Reuters


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