‘Why is it Wrong’?: Conceptualisations of Sexual Wrongdoing and Sexual Ethics among Gay-Identifying Malaysian Men

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Doing Asian Theological Ethics

Doing Asian Theological Ethics

Goh, Joseph N. “Why is it Wrong’?: Conceptualisations of Sexual Wrongdoing and Sexual Ethics among Gay-Identifying Malaysian Men.” In Doing Asian Theological Ethics in a Cross-Cultural and Interreligious Context, edited by Yiu Sing Lúcás Chan, James F. Keenan and Shaji George Kochuthara, 347-360. Bengaluru, India: Dharmaram Publications, 2016.


This essay is a critical investigation of the conceptualisations of sexual wrongdoing and ethics among gay-identifying Malaysian men. My focus here is on the lived experiences of two gay-identifying Malaysian men who profess to be non-practising Roman Catholics, and whose narratives bespeak their struggles in negotiating their sexualities and their understandings of religious ethics. This essay is derived from a larger qualitative research project in which I conducted face-to-face, in-depth interviews with thirty non-heteronormative Malaysian men in order to analyse and interpret the meanings of their sexual identifyings and practices, as well as the connections and/or conflicts between their sexualities and sense of the transcendent. In this essay, I use a Constructivist Grounded Theory Methodology to analyse, interpret and theorise the narratives of these two men on their constructions of sexual wrongdoing and personal ethico-spiritual spaces that can accommodate their sexualities. These spaces draw on Buddhist insights and deferential attitudes towards fellow human subjects. My theorisations are further fortified by the works of theological ethicists from diverse Christian traditions and insights. This investigation reveals that these men conceptualise sexual wrongdoings as religio-theological transgression and sexual disregard, and provide alternative conceptualisations of sexual ethics as respect for oneself and others within a sexually-affirming spiritual ethos.


Key Words: gay, Malaysia, Roman Catholic, sexual ethics, spirituality

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