By Aloysius Chia
A lot of conservative minded people think that accepting the LGBT community is bad for society. They say, for instance, how accepting the LGBT community will lead to a slippery slope situation where family values will be eroded.
The values of restraint, postponement of gratification, and commitment, which conservatively minded people cherish, keeps a wary eye on the LGBT community. This discourse, which has been the dominant one, may actually be less conservative than it sounds.
As absurd as it might sound, I would like present here the idea that it would in fact be conservative, consistent with conservative values, to actually accept the LGBT community as part of society. This could be in reference to “Conservative Christians”, but is just as applicable to conservatives in general.
Those who cherish conservative values often think the heterogeneous family as ideal. In thinking what holds communities together, conservatively minded people often think the straight family as the norm. The common perception is that LGBT-oriented people are incapable, or have fewer obligations, to keep such values.
Such perceptions however, are problematic. What capabilities are possible if LGBT-oriented people are not even recognised in the first place?
It is possible that if LGBT couples are allowed to form long-term relationships and given the chance to be embedded within their communities, liable to the obligations that come with such relationships, that it would in fact make it harder for LGBT persons not to be committed.
For instance, if LGBT couples are recognised by society, friends and relatives, and receive their benefits from the state dependent upon their commitment, one could see how this could make it more difficult, not easier, for them to stray away from commitment.
If homosexual couples are as accountable as heterosexual couples to the social sanctions that come with keeping it all together, then it might give them more reasons to stay together.
Right now, due partly to religious reasons and historical baggage, this recognition is not even accepted as possible. It is as though orientation has determined commitment levels, by excluding the “offending” persons from the community if they do not fall in line.
But just like there are Christians or Muslims who are focused on the more accepting practices of religion, so are there LGBT people who want to be committed.
The lack of even informal recognition detracts the sense of respect that leads to the values that come from other people. The affirmation of values can only be effective if demands are made from whom it recognises, by those who recognise them.
If conservatives can accept that sexuality is generally fixed over time and that it is not prudent to force LGBT-oriented people into straight relationships and marriage, then they should really consider some ways of incorporating rather than rejecting them outright.
This consideration here has nothing to do with rights or such claims that give special treatment over one group over others. On the contrary, the concern here is a pragmatic one.
If conservatives really cherish what they claim, then it would actually be prudent for them to recognise that LGBT people are as capable of forming good relationships and desire to do so just like anybody else.
Values are strengthened, not weakened, when there is recognition, because recognising others creates a greater sense of worth than otherwise.