Ashley Madison: Ban 'unjustifiable'

The people behind adultery website Ashley Madison are consulting legal advice about challenging the Singapore Government's decision to block it.

Calling it "unjustifiable", a statement from the Canadian-based site said that "suppression of freedoms, especially around interpersonal connections, can never succeed".

It noted that infidelity is not a crime in Singapore and other adult-network sites that facilitate sexual encounters operate legally in Singapore.

The company behind the website, Avid Dating Life, also said that "the decision to disallow a leading social platform to operate in Singapore, based on the moral objections of a small percentage of Singapore's population, runs counter to the accepting and open-minded nature of Singapore and its diverse citizens".

The website first came to prominence when freesheet MyPaper ran a story on Oct 23 about how it planned "to set up shop" in Singapore. The site has versions for various Asian countries, including Hong Kong and Japan.

A Facebook petition, founded on the same day by a Mr Ng, called for a ban on the website.

Two days later, Social and Family Development Minister Chan Chun Sing said in a Facebook post: "I do not welcome such a website into Singapore. I'm against any company or website that harms marriage. Promoting infidelity undermines trust and commitment between a husband and wife, which are core to marriage."

Last Friday, the Media Development Authority (MDA) announced the ban, saying that the website "aggressively promotes and facilitates extramarital affairs" and "declared that it will specifically target Singaporeans".

It is understood that Ashley Madison was aiming to launch in Singapore later this month.

In response, AshleyMadison.com's CEO Noel Biderman (right), 42, took aim directly at MDA's statement: "Contrary to what has been stated by the MDA, (the site) does not aggressively promote extra-marital affairs.

"We provide a platform and social network for like-minded adults that cannibalises an already existing behaviour pattern."

It also trotted out statistics from a 2012 Durex survey which showed, according to Ashley Madison, an already existing trait that "female Singaporeans rank as the 5th most unfaithful women in the world."

The Durex survey polled 29,000 people in 36 countries. There were 506 respondents in Singapore. It showed that 62 per cent of women in Ghana admitting to cheating on their boyfriends and husbands. Thai women were second on 59 per cent, Malaysians third on 39 per cent and Russians fourth on 33 per cent. After that came Singapore women at 19 per cent.

The statement also trotted out figures that showed that the "divorce rates in Singapore had risen steadily" and in 2012, 24 per cent of divorces were due to adultery.

Mr Biderman, who is married, and claims to be faithful to his wife also said: "If MDA wants to blame inanimate objects for causing moral corruption, than there is a long list of products that will need to be banned as well, including the iPhone, condoms, hotels and Facebook. Each one of these items may play a role in an adulterous affair."

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