Jae Andrew Lim: Sexual Identity Matters In National Belonging

I thank the writer for a crucial insight noted in her letter “Continue to promote family, but recognise others” (May 18): That the eradication of laws must not be conflated with progress.

Changes in law should, theoretically speaking at least, be in response to particular contextual contingencies and concerns of a nation rather than progress. Yet, it is precisely this contingent, changing notion of progress that the writer fails to consider.

The assertion that a nation is progressive only if it protects the natural heterosexual family is built on the assumption that this family form is universally valid.

Arguably, the valuation of the heterosexual nuclear family was set in Singapore’s post-colonial days, when the nation required industry, economic growth and a constant workforce to progress to the First World.

This developmental and economy-centric notion of progress has shifted in recent times to accommodate more subjective concerns such as happiness, belonging and identity.

As we continue to extol the natural family, it is perhaps unfortunate that the current situation does not reflect the writer’s injunction that we “recognise the existence of other family structures”.

Section 377A, too, represents another facet of non-recognition of homosexuals.

These two concepts matter not only in self-identity and personhood but speak also to feelings of national belonging.

Sociology professors Jeffrey Weeks and Diane Richardson have encapsulated this millenial phenomenon in the concept of sexual citizenship, where sexual subjectivities are coming to matter in national belonging.

To move us forward, I echo the writer’s call that Singapore’s future depends on the promotion of wholesome family values — values regardless of sexuality that uphold love, compassion and children’s wholesome growth both in and outside the family.

Arriving at this stage requires inclusive dialogue governed by logic, empathy and a desire to negotiate assumptions of sexuality and family, and not purely in terms of progress, but also feelings of belonging, which are just as crucial.


*Article written by Jae Andrew Lim was published in Voices, Today, on 23 May 2015

Source: www.todayonline.com

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