Singaporeans are mourning their founding father that many in the LGBT community say has been the city state’s most gay friendly politician.
“Today we mourn the passing of our founding father and strongest supporter of LGBT rights in Singapore, Mr Lee Kuan Yew. As with all issues, he was a pragmatist and repeal of Section 377A would probably had been a success had he been the Prime Minister then,” reported trevvy.com.
Lee Kuan Yew died on March 23 at the age of 91. He was Prime Minister from 1959 to 1990 and instrumental in transforming the country from a colonial trading post to an independent, thriving country.
In 1998 when Lee Kuan Yew was a guest on a CNN International radio and asked about gay rights, he replied: "Well, it's not a matter which I can decide or any government can decide. It's a question of what a society considers acceptable. And as you know, Singaporeans are by and large a very conservative, orthodox society, a very, I would say, completely different from, say, the United States and I don't think an aggressive gay rights movement would help. But what we are doing as a government is to leave people to live their own lives so long as they don't impinge on other people. I mean, we don't harass anybody."
In 2007 while a meeting with the youth wing of the People’s Action Party he was quoted as saying: "If in fact it is true, and I have asked doctors this, that you are genetically born a homosexual - because that's the nature of the genetic random transmission of genes - you can't help it. So why should we criminalise it?"
In his 2011 book titled “Hard Truths to Keep Singapore Going” he said, “Homosexuality will eventually be accepted. It’s already accepted in China. It’s a matter of time before it’s accepted here." Gay rights are a contentious issue in Singapore, with many either wanting to retain or abrogate the British colonial-era Section 377A law which states that any male person who, in public or private, commits, abets, procures or attempts to procure any act of gross indecency with another male person, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years.
The government claims it does not actively enforce that ban and the issue of repealing or retaining it has also been brought up in Parliament in recent years even as many Christian and Muslim religious groups want no debate on discarding the law. Last year however, the highest court in Singapore upheld the colonial-era law criminalizing gay sex.
Watch a media clip of Lee Kuan Yew’s view on same-sex relations here: