Deconstructing Stigmatisation by Heterosexuals of LGBT Against the Backdrop of Religion in Malaysia

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Sharifah Sophia Wan Ahmad
Su-hie Ting
Collin anak Jerome
Jiin-Yih Yeo


The study focussed on deconstructing heterosexuals’ stigmatisation of LGBT in the context of religion in Malaysia. The qualitative study involved semi-structured interviews with 21 heterosexuals (Buddhist, Christian, Muslim). The interview questions focussed on societal and personal views of LGBT. Thematic analysis of interview transcripts totalling 30,488 words showed the lay perspective on the construction of homosexuality in terms of personal choice, situational factors, and ideologies of stigma. The participants were able to empathize with personal choice only because they perceived the LGBT individuals had no chance of reverting to a so-called normal identity. The participants re-animated, rehearsed and re-presented the ideological defence of heterosexuality through repeated stigmatisation of difference and non-conformity in the context of the normative religious beliefs. They also perceived homosexuals as a potential threat to the morality of the norm-compliant population, prone to emotional and psychological instability, and a threat to the veneer of normalcy. The study showed that such popular theorising is not a neutral instrument of knowledge but one that carries ideological power in normalizing stigma towards LGBT. 

Article Details

Research Articles
Author Biography

Sharifah Sophia Wan Ahmad, Universiti Malaysia Sarawak

Dr Sharifah Sophia Wan Ahmad is a senior lecturer at the Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities, Universiti Malaysia Sarawak. She has a Doctor of Philosophy in Culture, Power and Resistance
from the University of Durham (2010) and a Bachelors degree in Political Science from Universiti Islam Antarabangsa (2004). Her research interests include the sociology of LGBT attitudes, political participation, and cultural heritage preservation. 


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