Government-backed Singapore bank courts gay consumers
May 14 2004 12:00 AM ET
A state-linked bank in conservative Singapore said it's thinking about launching a credit card targeted at the affluent, trendy gay community despite official disapproval of gay sex acts in this tightly controlled country. "If the market is big enough, we will consider" launching a credit card aimed at the gay market, DBS Bank's head of consumer banking, Edmund Koh, said on Thursday. He didn't say how the card would be specifically pitched to a gay clientele. The Singapore government's investment arm, Temasek Holdings, owns 28.8% of DBS.
Gay sex is punishable by up to two years in jail, although this is rarely enforced. But the government recently refused to let the country's largest gay rights group register as a society. Still, several mainstream Singaporean businesses have begun chasing the so-called "pink dollar" and are pitching their services and products--even condominiums--to gay and lesbian customers in this wealthy island nation of 4 million people. The government balks at dropping laws against gay sex, saying that would officially legitimize them. However, Singaporeans are largely tolerant of the country's gay and lesbian communities. Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong said last year that his administration would hire openly gay people.