PM Lee on BBC's Hardtalk: Most would back retaining Section 377A if a referendum was held

PM Lee Hsien Loong chats with BBC HARDTalk presenter Stephen Sackur. PHOTO: MCI

SINGAPORE - If there were a referendum on whether to remove Singapore's law criminalising gay sex, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong believes that most Singaporeans would want to keep the statute.

This is because society is not that liberal on such matters, he said when asked in a BBC interview about doing away with Section 377A of the Penal Code.

BBC presenter Stephen Sackur acknowledged that the authorities choose not to proactively enforce the controversial statute, but asked why it could not be removed "as a symbol of change".

"It is a matter of society's values," Mr Lee replied.

The prime minister made the argument that on social and moral issues, it was not the Government's role to lead society when it comes to changing social attitudes.

"People believe this, some of them believe this fervently - it is a vexed issue in every society," he added on BBC's HardTalk programme, which aired on Wednesday (March 1).

Mr Sackur then asked Mr Lee if his perspective on the issue would change if any of his children or grandchildren were gay.

Mr Lee said: "It is a law which is there. If I remove it, I will not remove the problem because if you look at what has happened in the West... your attitudes have changed a long way but even now gay marriage is contentious."

Pressed for his personal view, he added: "My personal view is that if I do not have a problem, this is an uneasy compromise, I am prepared to live with it until social attitudes change."

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