Current definition of marriage will not change ‘under my watch’: DPM Lawrence Wong

The existing definition of marriage in Singapore is between one man and one woman.

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Published: 24 August 2022, 3:13 PM

The existing definition of marriage as between a man and woman will not change “under his watch” should the People’s Action Party be reelected at the next elections, said Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong. 

Mr Wong, who is also the Minister of Finance, made the remarks in an interview on the repeal of Section 377A with CNA on Monday (Aug 22) alongside Minister for Culture, Community and Youth and Second Minister for Law Edwin Tong. 

The repeal of Section 377A was announced in Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s speech on Sunday. PM Lee added that the constitution will be amended to protect the definition of marriage. 

“PM himself said this very clearly in his speech – the PAP Government will not change the current definition of marriage. So this will not change, this will not happen under the watch of the current Prime Minister, and it will not happen under my watch – if the PAP were to win the next General Election,” said Mr Wong, the leader of the ruling People’s Action Party’s (PAP) fourth-generation team.

He noted that while most did not think a person’s private and personal sexual orientation and behaviour should become a criminal offence, even among those who would like to retain 377A, there were concerns that the repeal could lead to impact on family, marriage, and social norms.

As such, the Government is proposing amendments to the constitution to protect the definition of marriage so that the repeal of 377A is done in “a very careful and controlled manner”.

“Likewise, we will not change the laws and policies that rely on this definition of marriage, and that relates to public housing, adoption, what we teach our children in schools, advertising standards, film classification, and so on. Basically, the overall tone of society will not change – our laws and policies will remain the same,” Mr Wong said.

On Monday, both the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Communications and Information released statements to reiterate that policies regarding education policies and curriculum as well as Singapore’s content regulatory approach will remain status quo. 

Regarding concerns about the excesses of activism and advocacy on both pro-LGBT and anti-LGBT sides, Mr Wong noted that the Government is monitoring the situation closely and will take action and steps against any acts of discrimination or harassment. This is to ensure that no one feels threatened because of their religious affiliation or because they are LGBT. 

Acknowledging that Singapore’s society is diverse and may bring opposing views, he said it is not possible for any single group to have everything that they want. 

“We have to learn to compromise to arrive at solutions which most people are comfortable with and can live harmoniously together,” Mr Wong said. 

“That is the Singapore way – that is how we have dealt with sensitive issues in the past, that is how we are dealing with this issue now, and that is how we can continue to deal with sensitive issues going forward while keeping our social fabric intact.”

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