As I have posted news reports on this earlier, it only makes sense that I continue doing so.
I believe most major dailies covered the wedding of Jessie Chung and her fiancé, which took place on Sunday.
Chung is no celebrity but her wedding to Beh, an accountant, is the talk of the town and has attracted hordes of pressmen here and from Singapore.
The high-profile wedding is believed to be the first of its kind in the country – the stunning bride was born a male here more than 30 years ago.
Chung, whose original name was Jeffrey, underwent three major operations to become a woman three years ago.
To look at it in a positive light, I suppose the publicity generated is good in bringing visibility to the marginalized members of society. To raise the fact that marriage is a covenant of love for everyone, and is not the exclusive right of straight couples.
However, a lot of other people do not share my view on marriage, of course. We have to realise that a wedding is not a sign of acceptance or even tolerance from the public. Far from it.
This was aptly proven when the Home Affairs Ministry and National Evangelical Christian Fellowship's views were published yesterday.
The Minister said that “Malaysian laws do not allow its citizens to change their gender in their identity cards despite having gone through a sex operation.”
In addition, the Marriage and Divorce Reform Act 1976 does not allow marriages between two people of the same sex, even if one of them has undergone a sex change operation.
What the Christian guy said was typical: "It’s clearly stated in the Bible. There is no such thing as creation of half-half. Therefore, biologically and genetically, there is only male and female."
Clearly, he has no knowledge whatsoever about the intricacies of sexuality and sexual identity. Furthermore, he is clearly ignorant of the fact that the brain is the largest sexual organ. And definitely more indicative of sexual identity than visible sexual organs.
In another related news report today:
The help of local universities and experts will be sought to conduct research on transgender issues to enable the Government to deal with issues affecting this group of people.
Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil said the time was right to make a thorough study of the problems and issues affecting the transgender group, such as homosexuality, bisexuality and same-sex marriage.
She said it was important to first understand why people resorted to sex change or were attracted to the same sex.
Research papers on transgender issues done overseas would be studied, she added.
Shahrizat said such matters could not be swept under the carpet and while the ministry was prepared to assist any marginalised group.
“It also has great social impact and, personally, I believe we should not punish or discriminate against anybody,” she said.
Is this good or bad? I applaud the logical approach that Women, Family and Community Development Minister is taking, i.e. that there has to be an underlying cause for such things and that she is interested to know why.
At least, she is not judgmental and did not take a religious point of view. Moreover, she is willing to learn and explore the issue and not stick with conventional stereotypes and prejudices.
Obviously, she wouldn't need to spend as much money and resource on the study if she had done a little reading and thinking of her own. Based on the all available information and research done worldwide, and if she was really fair, she is likely to come to the conclusion that homosexuality is very much genetically-caused.
An example of being religion-biased and yet failing to see it for yourself is this interview with a Singaporean minister:
As a Christian, do your religious beliefs affect you in your decision making?
You have to make decisions according to policies, what is right for Singapore, and Singapore is secular.
But as a mature religious person, your values are internalised. That's how you act, speak, present yourself. But you don't think, oh, as a Christian, what should this policy be?
At temples for instance, I attend festivals and so on, just that I don't hold joss sticks.
You said gay sex is 'not natural'. Is that something that comes out of your religious beliefs?
Yes, could be. Well, I won't attribute it directly. I look at it more as a family bedrock thing, that a family is based on a man and a woman. I think all the main religions in Singapore believe it's how we are made.
Anyway, from what I know, a UM researcher has already approach PT Foundation to arrange a meeting with a group of gays. The meeting took place a couple of months ago and those who volunteered to be interviewed fall into a specific demographic – 18 to 45 years old and speaks Chinese.
The rationale for the criteria of the participants was questioned. Apparently, the researchers have also done a discussion with English speaking participants and they intend to conduct a few more group discussions with different ethnic groups and different age groups.
It all seems promising, yet somewhat scary, doesn’t it? But I am withholding judgment and keeping my fingers crossed. Let’s just wait for the results of the study to be published, if ever.