If the Bill is passed, there will be a new Article 156 under the General Provisions of the Constitution which allows Parliament “to define, regulate, protect, safeguard, support, foster and promote marriage”.
Under Clause 2 of the Article, this will apply to the Government and any public authority exercising relevant functions.
For example, the Housing and Development Board (HDB) can implement housing policies that prioritise married couples while the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) will be able to regulate media content according to pro-heterosexual family principles.
Clause 3(a) of the Article also guarantees that the eight fundamental liberties in Part 4 of the Constitution, such as the liberty of the person, equal protection of citizens, and freedom of speech, will not invalidate any legislative definition of marriage as being a union between a man and a woman.
CONSTITUTION PROTECTS FREEDOM OF RELIGION, SAFETY OF INDIVIDUALS AND GROUPS
Mr Masagos also said that the Government’s pro-family values and position reflects the common interests and beliefs of Singaporeans, and is not the outcome of a majoritarian or a religious approach.
The Government has been engaging on the issue of the repeal with Singaporeans across various groups including religious leaders, grassroot leaders, union leaders, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) groups, social sector professionals, youth groups and members of the public.
Among the concerns from various groups were the issues of “cancel culture”, religious freedom, and discrimination faced by those with differing views.
Some involved in the discussions also said they wanted the definition of marriage to be enshrined in the Constitution, said Mr Masagos.
This was driven by a belief in the sanctity of marriage and a worry that same-sex marriage would be recognised in Singapore in the future, he added.
Mr Masagos emphasised that the Constitution guarantees that all Singaporeans are free to practise their religions, and that the secular approach by the Government has provided Singaporeans security and safety when living together.
“Religious groups can continue to preach about homosexuality according to their religious beliefs,” he said.
However, for all the diverse groups that may be for or against homosexuality, no one can violate the laws of the land or instigate violence or intimidation towards others or a particular group.
“We are protected by the constitutional right to be free to profess, practise and propagate our religion. But this right is not absolute. It is subject to considerations of public order, public health, or morality,” Mr Masagos said.
“As Singaporeans we must also have respect for each other as fellow citizens in exercising this right,” he added.