Published: 30 July 2022
Question: Minister, on S377A, you said in March, in Parliament, that the Government would be consulting widely. So, what is the current position, and are there any updates on that?
Minister K Shanmugam: We have had extensive discussions with different people, including religious leaders from different religious denominations and groups - Taoists, Christians, Muslims, Hindus, and various others. We have had discussions with grassroots leaders, with Singaporeans from many different backgrounds, from all walks of life. We have had discussions with LGBT groups, and many more.
The general sense of the discussions is this: many agree that men who have sex with each other should not be thrown into prison. Gay sex should not be criminalised. At the same time, most do not want any decriminalisation to cause other major changes. In particular, most people that we have spoken with want the current position on marriage to be retained. And the current position is that the law defines marriage as being between a man and a woman. People don’t want that to change. And people also do not want any change to the current policies that take reference from this definition of marriage.
The Government understands this view. We are now considering how best to achieve this balance.
The two questions we are dealing with are therefore: One, what is to be done with 377A; and two, at the same time, we are also considering how we can safeguard the current legal position on marriage from being challenged in the Courts, so that it does not get challenged like the way Section 377A was in a series of cases. These matters really ought to be discussed in Parliament, and decided in Parliament, and not decided in the Courts.
Question: There was a townhall last Saturday by a group called “Protect Singapore”. Activists have complained about this townhall and the points that have been made. What is your view on this?
Minister K Shanmugam: Pink Dot held its rally on 18 June this year. There were many speeches. There were various calls to action. Likewise, the people who organised the “Protect Singapore Townhall” exercised their rights. My Ministry, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has looked at it – “Protect Singapore” did not break any laws in holding the townhall. We will step in if there is any incitement, attacks, or running down of any groups by either side. And I have made that clear several times. Our duty is to protect the safety of everyone.
We can expect more of this, as both sides seek to get heard.
And these events really illustrate what the Government has been saying for a long time. That if one side pushes, then there will be a pushback. We have seen this happen in many countries. If it happens here in Singapore, we are a very small place. The ruptures will tear our social fabric apart, cause a lot of harm.
This is why the Government has been advocating moderation, moving carefully, not push positions which can damage society.
Passions can run high, people genuinely believe in one or another view with great intensity.
We have to try and deal with the issues with an open mind, open heart, avoid extreme positions and avoid extreme demands. Move forward, try and be united, work on our differences in a calm way, for the sake of Singapore.