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Masagos Zulkifli on Constitution of the Republic of Singapore (Amendment No. 3) Bill

43:30 Min

The Government is moving to protect the definition of marriage from being challenged in the courts on constitutional grounds, even as it repeals Section 377A of the Penal Code which criminalises sex between men. Opening the debate on the relevant Bill in Parliament on Monday (Nov 28), Social and Family Development Minister Masagos Zulkifli said there is a strong consensus in society that marriage is between a man and a woman, and children should be born and raised within such families, and Government policies and legislation have consistently supported this. The Government therefore wants to proactively safeguard the institution of marriage, and related laws and policies, from being challenged in court. The Bill makes clear that Parliament can act to define, regulate, protect and foster marriage; allows the Government and any public authority to exercise their functions to safeguard and support marriage, such as in public housing policies, child adoption, school curricula and media content; and creates an exception to the fundamental liberties to protect the heterosexual definition of marriage and the laws and policies that rely on this definition. Mr Masagos said the Bill will allow the political process to balance different interests and perspectives and does not “pass the buck” to the courts to rule on political questions. He added that the Government’s view is that elevating marriage to the same level as fundamental rights in the Constitution would not be appropriate, and it will not use its current super-majority in Parliament to tie the hands of future generations. Instead, future elected governments can amend the legal definition of marriage by a simple majority in Parliament should they choose to do so. Mr Masagos said Singapore is taking a calibrated approach to address concerns that repealing Section 377A may cause a shift in societal norms, and that this reflects Singapore’s unique approach to diversity and harmony.

The Government is moving to protect the definition of marriage from being challenged in the courts on constitutional grounds, even as it repeals Section 377A of the Penal Code which criminalises sex between men. Opening the debate on the relevant Bill in Parliament on Monday (Nov 28), Social and Family Development Minister Masagos Zulkifli said there is a strong consensus in society that marriage is between a man and a woman, and children should be born and raised within such families, and Government policies and legislation have consistently supported this. The Government therefore wants to proactively safeguard the institution of marriage, and related laws and policies, from being challenged in court. The Bill makes clear that Parliament can act to define, regulate, protect and foster marriage; allows the Government and any public authority to exercise their functions to safeguard and support marriage, such as in public housing policies, child adoption, school curricula and media content; and creates an exception to the fundamental liberties to protect the heterosexual definition of marriage and the laws and policies that rely on this definition. Mr Masagos said the Bill will allow the political process to balance different interests and perspectives and does not “pass the buck” to the courts to rule on political questions. He added that the Government’s view is that elevating marriage to the same level as fundamental rights in the Constitution would not be appropriate, and it will not use its current super-majority in Parliament to tie the hands of future generations. Instead, future elected governments can amend the legal definition of marriage by a simple majority in Parliament should they choose to do so. Mr Masagos said Singapore is taking a calibrated approach to address concerns that repealing Section 377A may cause a shift in societal norms, and that this reflects Singapore’s unique approach to diversity and harmony.

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