NDR 2022: In dealing with Section 377A, policies on family and marriage will not be changed, says PM Lee

People watching PM Lee Hsien Loong's National Day Rally speech at Our Tampines Hub on Aug 21, 2022. ST PHOTO: GIN TAY

SINGAPORE - In dealing with the issue of Section 377A, the Government will continue to uphold families as the basic building blocks of society, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Sunday (Aug 21).

Addressing the nation in Malay at the National Day Rally at ITE College Central in Ang Mo Kio, PM Lee said: "We will keep our policies on family and marriage unchanged, and maintain the prevailing norms and social values of our society."

He noted that Section 377A - a law in the Penal Code that criminalises sex between men - is a highly sensitive and contentious issue, with strong views on both sides.

"But we must not allow it to divide us, like what has happened elsewhere," he said.

Every group has to accept that it cannot get everything it wants, as that is "simply not possible", he added.

"And we must maintain the mutual respect and trust that we have painstakingly built up over the years, and stay united as one people."

Remote video URL

PM Lee said he would speak more on Section 377A during his English speech, which will start at 8pm on Sunday.

He noted that as a multiracial society, Singapore will often have to deal with sensitive issues in a manner that preserves racial and religious harmony.

“This requires mutual understanding across all groups, and the willingness to give and take, and work together,” he said. 

“Only then can every group have the space to maintain its religious and cultural practices, and get on harmoniously together.”

While Section 377A is fundamentally different from the tudung issue, it has to be handled just as carefully, he said.

PM Lee had announced at last year's Rally that nurses would be allowed to wear tudungs in public hospitals - a decision that he said was years in the making and took much engagement, dialogue and preparation from all parties, not just the Malay and Muslim community. 

READ NEXT - 8 highlights from NDR 2022: Masks optional in most indoor settings, Section 377A to be repealed

Remote video URL

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.