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Asia Minute: Gay Rights in Singapore Highlighted by Adam Lambert Controversy

Tatianka1986 / Flickr
Tatianka1986 / Flickr

Plans for a New Year’s Eve concert in Singapore have re-ignited a simmering public discussion there. The question concerns a controversial singer, a national broadcast, and the issue of gay rights. HPR’s Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute.

Singer Adam Lambert rocketed to fame on the tv show “American Idol” and has sold millions of albums around the world.  He’s scheduled to headline a show in Singapore this New Year’s Eve - an event that will be shown live by state broadcaster Media Corp.

The fact that he’s openly gay has sparked dueling petitions - each with thousands of signatures.  One calls his performance “contrary to mainstream Singaporean values”—asking MediaCorp to drop him from the show.  Another urges the broadcaster to keep him—to show that Singapore “shuns discrimination and promotes diverse inclusive points of view.”  MediaCorp is sticking with Lambert - saying his performance will be “suitable for family audiences.”

Gay rights are controversial in Singapore, where sex between men remains illegal.  Authorities say that law is rarely enforced, although its legality was upheld in a Singaporean court just last year.  Each June, gay rights activists organize the Pink Dot rally—which drew a record 28-thousand people this year.  A couple of years ago - religious groups started a counter movement, asking their supporters to “Wear White” on that same day.  Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong says Singapore is not ready to legalize same sex marriage….because it remains a conservative society.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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