THE decision on whether or not to decriminalise gay sex is a very divisive one and until there is a broader consensus on the matter, Singapore will stick to the status quo.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong was explaining the Government's decision not to repeal section 377(A) of the Penal Code, even as it introduced to Parliament recently a raft of proposed changes to that law.
He was responding to a question from a Law undergraduate, who said she was concerned about the kind of image Singapore's stand on this issue left on foreigners, including the talent that it wished to draw here.
Mr Lee said in reply: 'If everybody felt like you in Singapore...we could change 377A and we would de-criminalise gay sex.
'But the fact is many people in Singapore feel passionately to the contrary to the point of view which you have argued. And you have to take cognizance of that.'
He said that the Government's view was that it should not push forward on this issue but follow along as societal views shifted.
'And as of today my judgment is the society is comfortable with our position. Leave the clause' he said.
Sharing his own views on homosexuality, he said it seemed to him that it was a trait people were born with.
He stressed, however, that that did not mean gays should set the tone here.
'My view is that gayness is something which is mostly inborn, some people are like that, some people are not. How they live their own lives is really for them to decide. It's a personal matter,' he said.
'I think the tone of the society should really be set by the heterosexuals and that's the way many Singaporeans feel.'
He also made clear that the issue was something Singapore would deal with on its own. It did not need foreign speakers coming here to 'add sugar and spice' to the debate.
He was referring to a recent decision by the Police to cancel the permit for Canadian academic Douglas Sanders to speak in Singapore on the subject.
'Within Singapore, we will have to work this out in our society, and I think that's what we will do,' he said.
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