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.
On 11 December 1998, Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew was a guest on a CNN International radio programme. The programme fielded questions of callers when a question pertaining to gay rights came in from an unnamed caller.
"I am a gay man in Singapore. I do not feel that my country has acknowledged my presence. As we move into a more tolerant millennium, what do you think is the future for gay people in Singapore, if there is a future at all?"
"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, then Minister Mentor had a meeting with the youth wing of the People’s Action Party and was quoted 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 answered the following question:
Q: Within the Singapore Cabinet, when there are discussion on issues, to what extent do ministers’ religious beliefs influence the positions they take, for example, on moral issues — casinos, homosexuality and so on. Does that ever come up?
A: They’re modern thinking people. This is the reality of the society, we decide what is in our interest and how the people will react. Homosexuality will eventually be accepted. It’s already accepted in China. It’s a matter of time before it’s accepted here.
Sengkang MP He Ting Ru said she was dismayed that many Singaporeans are living with racism. "There is no place in our society for racism, sexism or xenophobia," she wrote.