Government not moral police: MM Lee

23 April 2007
The Straits Times

MM Lee’s dialogue with 400 Young People’s Action Party activists Homosexuality: Govt not moral police but it’s mindful of people’s concerns

THE Government is not the moral police on the issue of homosexuality here – but it cannot at the same time ignore the concerns of conservative citizens.

Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew addressed the issue in his reply to a question from Young PAP activist Loretta Chen, who had asked where censorship was headed in the next two decades.

Having related the issue of how the topless revue Crazy Horse was allowed to operate here, he turned to the question of homosexuality.

It was an issue that ‘raises tempers all over the world, and even in America’.

‘If in fact it is true, and I have asked doctors this, that you are genetically born a homosexual – because that’s the nature of the genetic random transmission of genes – you can’t help it. So why should we criminalise it?’

But Mr Lee also noted that there was a strong inhibition towards it in all societies – be they Christian, Islamic, Hindu or Chinese.

Singapore, too, was confronted ‘with a persisting aberration’.

‘But is it an aberration?’ he asked. ‘It’s a genetic variation.’

‘So what do we do? I think we pragmatically adjust, carry our people…don’t upset them and suddenly upset their sense of propriety and right and wrong.

‘But at the same time let’s not go around like this moral police…barging into people’s rooms. That’s not our business.

‘So you have to take a practical, pragmatic approach to what I see is an inevitable force of time and circumstance.’

When the Home Affairs Ministry announced proposed changes to the Penal Code on a range of offences last year, it said it would retain the ban on acts of ‘gross indecency’ between men. The penalty remains a maximum of two years in jail.

The ministry said homosexuality was not widely accepted here, but added that it would not be ‘proactive’ in enforcing this law against consensual acts that take place in private.


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