ESM Goh clarifies remark made to pastor

SINGAPORE - Former prime minister Goh Chok Tong's office has clarified comments that he made to a pastor who called homosexuality a "looming threat" to the family unit.

It said that in his impromptu comments to churchgoers while on a walkabout, the Emeritus Senior Minister had been making a "general remark that people are free to stand by their beliefs".

Mr Goh was responding to a prepared statement by Pastor Lawrence Khong, who called the family unit "the basic building block of society".

Mr Khong added: "We see a looming threat to this basic building block by homosexual activists seeking to repeal Section 377A of the Penal Code."

He had been welcoming Mr Goh to the Faith Community Baptist Church's (FCBC's) Touch Centre auditorium. Mr Goh was on a walkabout in his Marine Parade constituency on Sunday when he made a 10-minute unscheduled stop at the church after being invited in by churchgoers.

He greeted the congregation, and according to the FCBC's account of the event on its website, he "responded to Reverend Khong with a strong word of encouragement. 'You stand by your belief, and you'll be fine!'"

Mr Khong had been referring to a lawsuit, to be heard in court next month, by a couple seeking to prove that Section 377A, which outlaws homosexual acts, is unconstitutional.

The repeal of similar laws around the world has "led to negative social changes, especially the breakdown of the family as a basic building block and foundation of the society", Mr Khong said.

He added that it takes away parents' rights over what children are taught, attacks religious freedom and denies free speech to those who disagree with homosexual activists.

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