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Singapore says may loosen law on oral sex
( 2004-01-07 10:03) (Agencies)

Singapore may decriminalize oral sex between men and women, a government minister said on Tuesday, but homosexual oral sex looks set to stay illegal.

The move follows a highly publicized case of a 27-year-old policeman jailed for two years in November for receiving consensual oral sex from a 15-year-old girl.

That case provoked rare public criticism of Singapore's government. Protests over the law filled newspaper forum pages and buzzed in Internet chat rooms.

In an earlier case detailed in the Straits Times a wife tried to punish her unfaithful husband by performing oral sex on him and then reporting him to the police.

In parliament Junior Home Affairs Minister Ho Peng Kee said the law could be revised in two to three months.

"One option being considered is to decriminalize consensual oral sex between a male and female so long as it is done in private and both of them are above 16 years of age," Ho said.

But a lingering ban on homosexual fellatio could stoke controversy at time when Singapore is emerging as an Asian gay entertainment hub following the opening of a number of gay-friendly cafes and clubs.

Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong made a low-key acknowledgement last year that gays now worked in the public service.

Critics have pointed out the irony of the law in a country where prostitution remains legal. Ho said the law was mostly used to prosecute cases involving minors, or mentally and physically handicapped people.

Singapore is relaxing other laws such as rules on bungee-jumping, bar-top dancing and chewing gum in a bid to shake off its stuffy image and lure foreign professionals.

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