An American gay pop duo previously barred by Singapore authorities have been given permission to perform at an HIV/AIDS awareness concert.
Jason Warner and deMarco DeCiccio, a couple in real life, were stopped from performing their act Jason and deMarco in 2005 when a similar event was being organised by Safehaven, a ministry of the equal rights for all Free Community Church.
At that time, the Media Development Authority (MDA) of Singapore said: “Based on the duo’s performance in the United States and information from the website, the couple have used their musical performances and their own example as a gay couple to promote a gay lifestyle” and as such would be “against the public interest.”
Amy Tsang, the MDA’s director for arts and licensing said that the 2005 concert had been prohibited because it was “open to general members of the public”, according to Fridae.com.
This time round, Safehaven has assured the MDA that the concert, which is for over-18s only, “is targeted at the high risk groups” and that its aim is “AIDS education and HIV prevention.”
Commenting on their decision to ask the authorities to allow the duo to perform for a second time, the event’s co-organiser Peter Goh said:
“We want to give ourselves as well as the authorities another chance to prove that together we can create more space to move the community towards healthy living.”
Mr Warner and Mr DeCiccio, who met in 2001, have released five albums and a single.
Both Christians, the pair has starred in a documentary entitled We’re All Angels about the anti-gay Christian fundamentalist abuse that they have received.
Mr Goh told Fridae.com: “Jason and deMarco are openly gay and we hope the HIV message will go so much further coming from people who are gay themselves.
“The fact that they are a gay duo makes them really unique.
“There are many openly gay artistes around, but you don’t see many gay duos who partner in life as well as in their music careers.”
The concert is being organised to tackle the rise in HIV infection rates amongst gay men in Singapore.
According to Action For Aids, 26 per cent of the 357 new HIV diagnoses reported in 2006 were from gay men.
AFA believes, however, that most cases are unreported and that the true figure is closer to 60 per cent.
Director Paul Toh said: “It is critical that gay men in Singapore realise that safe sex is not an option.
“It is totally non-negotiable if we do not want the HIV epidemic to devastate the community as it did in the US in the late 80s and early 90s.
“If we do not intensify our prevention work today, we certainly will find ourselves in the same situation sooner than we think.”
Last month the Singapore parliament legalised oral and anal sex in private between consenting straight adults in the first changes to the penal codes in more than two decades.
But the ban on “gross indecency” will remain in place and male homosexuals still face up to two years in prison for gay sex.
During the summer the authorities banned a gay photo exhibition, a gay poetry reading during Pride celebrations and a picnic and fun run from the Singapore Botanic Gardens.