Repeal of Section 377A and constitutional amendment to protect marriage definition 'major milestone' for Singapore: PM Lee
SINGAPORE: The repeal of Section 377A and protecting the definition of marriage from legal challenges is a "major milestone" for Singapore, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Tuesday (Nov 29).
Mr Lee said in a Facebook post that he is "very happy" that Parliament approved changes to two Bills - the repeal of the colonial-era Section 377A in the Penal Code and the constitutional amendment on the definition of marriage.
"It is a major milestone for Singapore. The outcome itself is significant. We are decriminalising sex between men – a longstanding issue, and not just for gay Singaporeans," said Mr Lee.
At the same time, the definition of marriage - as a union between a man and a woman - is protected from constitutional challenge, he added.
"Taken together, these are balanced, wise steps forward."
The two-day concurrent debate on both Bills ended on Tuesday. The repeal of Section 377A was passed with a majority of 93 to three votes, while a constitutional amendment to protect the definition of marriage against legal challenge was passed with a majority of 85 to two votes.
"Even more important, we have got here together – calmly, with all sides showing restraint, listening to one another, and accepting compromises to achieve a good result," said Mr Lee.
He added that this is a deeply felt and sensitive issue, and could have easily become a very divisive one.
"But we have not allowed it to divide us. Instead we have handled it responsibly and thoughtfully, and held everyone together. This is a major achievement."
Mr Lee thanked those who have worked hard for many months leading up to the repeal and the constitutional amendment.
He added that the engagements started long before the issue was touched on during his National Day Rally speech in August, and thousands of people have taken part in many dialogue sessions to give their views, express concerns and share their hopes for how Singapore's society would develop.
Mr Lee said the participants spoke openly and sincerely, and helped to shape a national consensus on the path forward.
"The way we have been able to handle this delicate matter gives me confidence that the outcome will be well accepted," said Mr Lee, adding that other difficult issues are bound to arise in the years to come.
"With the same spirit, we can tackle them successfully, while remaining one united people."