Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong answered a question from the audience regarding the recent legalisation of same-sex marriage in the USA and its relevance to Singapore during the Ho Rih Hwa Leadership in Asia Public Lecture Series held in Singapore on 30 June 2015. Transcript: "Q: Thank you, Mr Lee. So over the weekend the same sex marriage was legalised in the United States. Effectively nine citizens redefined marriage on behalf of millions of their peers, many of whom were opposed to the idea of same sex marriage. What is your view on the appropriateness of judges’ views overriding properly-passed laws? Do you think a political or judicial solution is better to address such a thorny issue especially for countries like Singapore? Thank you. PM: Well, this is the way the American system works. They have created the Supreme Court. It is nine men and the nine men decide important issues and in this case, it was five to four. So actually one man decided the issue. But that is their system. They will not say that they made a decision on the issue, they will say that they interpreted the Constitution in its true sense and this is what the US Constitution has always meant. That is the way there. I am not a law professor but I think that is the way they explain their legal system. It is how they resolve social, political, economic, racial, all kinds of important issues. Congress, the Parliament does not have the last word. It goes to the Supreme Court. Things like abortion, things like racial discriminations, drugs, all sorts of things go to the Supreme Court. It is not our system. In our system, the Parliament decides, the Executive through the Parliament, takes the lead, legislates and legislates on behalf of the population. On an issue like LGBT where there are very strong views in the society, I think the legislature has to act very cautiously. You can pass a law but will it be accepted? Will it be respected? Will people feel that it is legitimate? I think that we have to have a good sense of the ground, a good sense of how people feel and reflect the values and the attitudes of the population or rather than try to impose your own on them. Even in America, there are people who feel like that. I mean there are 40 percent of Americans who are opposed to same sex marriage and they say “well you decided this but I do not like this. I have to accept it but it is not my preference.” In Singapore, we have different legislative arrangements. We have a much more cautious approach towards social issues. On LGBT issues, I have stated my position. It is one where we move carefully because it is really a conservative population and I think we let the views evolve with time. The population has to decide collectively rather than the government decide that I am going to go one way or the other." Links: The full transcript of the dialogue is available on the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) website at: http://www.pmo.gov.sg/mediacentre/transcript-prime-minister-lee-hsien-loongs-dialogue-ho-rih-hwa-leadership-asia-public
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