SINGAPORE, April 24 (Reuters) - Singapore may eventually have to legalise homosexuality, particularly if it wants to foster creativity and become more cosmopolitan, Minister Mentor Le Kuan Yew said on Tuesday.
"Let's not pretend it doesn't exist," he said in an interview with Reuters, adding that he saw "no option" for Singapore but to decriminalise homosexual sex.
"They tell me that homosexuals are creative writers, dancers. If we want creative people, then we have to put up with their idiosyncrasies," Lee said.
Mr Lee, who this week publicly questioned the city-state's ban on sex between men, said the country would still need to respect the views of its more conservative citizens.
"We are not promoters of it and we are not going to allow Singapore to become the vanguard of Southeast Asia," Mr Lee said.
Under Singapore law, a man who is found to have committed an act of "gross indecency" with another man can be jailed for up to two years, though prosecutions are rare.
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.
MM Lee's comments come at a time when many groups, such as Singapore's Law Society, are clamouring for a review of the laws against homosexual sex, which they view as outdated and archaic.