Entrenching marriage in Singapore's Constitution would be inappropriate as it would place the institution on the same level as fundamental rights, said Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Edwin Tong.
Mr Tong, who spoke to local news broadcaster CNA at the same interview with Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong yesterday, said the Government will propose an amendment instead to safeguard the existing definition of marriage from constitutional challenge.
This protection will also be extended to other laws and policies which depend on this current definition of marriage, such as laws on adoption, public housing, school curriculum and advertising, added Mr Tong, who is also Second Minister for Law.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had announced during the National Day Rally on Sunday that the Government will repeal Section 377A, but also amend the Constitution to protect the existing definition of marriage - between one man and one woman - from being challenged in the courts.
Asked why the Government will not entrench the definition of marriage in the Constitution, as some churches had called for, Mr Tong said the main reason is it "may not be appropriate" to do so.
"This entrenchment would elevate marriage to the same level as fundamental rights in our Constitution, rights such as life and personal liberty," he noted. "And this would fundamentally change the whole complexion and the schema of the Constitution."
Although the move may satisfy some, it may rile other segments, the minister warned.
"And if we did this, if we hard-coded marriage in this way, in the most fundamental legal document in Singapore, we may end up prompting those who disagree with this position to campaign to mobilise, agitate, perhaps even with greater intensity," he added.
"And we do not think this would be good for society."
On the Constitution amendment that the Government has in mind, Mr Tong said this change will safeguard the existing definition of marriage as between one man and one woman, and protect it from constitutional challenge. This protection will also be extended to other laws and policies that depend on this definition of marriage, such as public housing.
"This will allow the Government to continue to make laws and other social policies, which depend on heterosexual marriage as their foundation, without being challenged in court on a constitutional basis," he said.