Gay Sites Banned, Fined in Singapore

SINGAPORE — A website called “Meet Gay Singapore Friends” was fined $3,000 today after Singapore’s local media watchdog group accused the site of hosting offensive material.

Singapore’s Media Development Authority, which overseas all forms of media distribution in the country, said the site hosted erotic pictures and video of gay men, which are illegal according to the country’s Internet Code of Practice.

MDA representatives said the site’s owners had been forced to take down the “offensive” material and a search of the site at the time of this writing found no such content.

In Singapore, websites may not show “nudity or genitalia in a manner calculated to titillate,” according to the Code, and homosexual content is essentially banned outright. Although the Singapore government has traditionally taken a hands-off approach to gay activities in the country, it has come out staunchly opposed to anything that might support an open gay culture within its borders.

On top of the local site, representatives at the MDA said they had banned an overseas gay site after allegedly receiving complaints that it served as an online meeting place for underage sex partners. The name of the overseas site was not releases, but MDA spokeswoman Casey Chang said membership to the site had grown from 60,000 to 333,000 in one year, prompting the MDA to take action.

“The MDA has always adopted a light-touch approach and encourages the industry to practice self-regulation. But in this instance, we received several public complaints and we have to act on the feedback,” Chang said.

According to Chang, the site allowed members to trade erotic pictures and listed local spots where gay men in Singapore could meet up for casual sex and mass orgies.

The banning of the overseas site today brings the current list of MDA-banned sites to 100, of which 98 are classified as pornographic.