Under proposed changes to its legislation, Singapore is to decriminalise oral and anal sex for consenting adult heterosexuals but keep a ban on gay sex.
"But at the same time let's not go around like this moral police ... barging into people's rooms. That's not our business"
Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore's minister mentor
Lee, who is minister mentor in his son's cabinet, said the government could not ignore conservative views in Singapore where homosexuality is not widely accepted, but that the authorities had to take a pragmatic approach.
"I think we pragmatically adjust, carry our people ... don't upset them and suddenly upset their sense of propriety and right and wrong," Lee told a group of young activists from the ruling People's Action party, according to the paper.
"But at the same time let's not go around like this moral police ... barging into people's rooms. That's not our business.
"You have to take a practical, pragmatic approach to what I see is an inevitable force of time and circumstance," he said.
Singapore says gay sex is "against the order of nature", an act punishable by up to life in prison, but there have been few prosecutions.
Some groups, such as Singapore's Law Society, have called for a review of the laws against homosexual sex.
Separately on Monday, producers of a Singaporean film about a homosexual relationship between a teacher and his 18-year-old student was pulled from the Singapore International Film Festival after government censors said sex scenes had to be cut.
Festival organisers and the film's producer said the film Solos would be withdrawn from public screening in line with the festival's policy of showing only uncensored films.
The Singapore Board of Film Censors said the film contained "prolonged and explicit homosexual lovemaking scenes including scenes of oral sex and threesome sex" which had to be removed.
The cuts make up about five minutes of the 77-minute film, Florence Ang, the film's producer, said.