Sexual Citizenship Re-centred: Gender and Sexual Diversity

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Sexual citizenship remains a concept underutilised in Asia, not least because staking a claim to sexual rights can be dangerous (Mackie, 2017). The notion that citizen sexuality is properly circumscribed by the state has long been evident, however. By the post-World War Two era, legitimate Asian subjects were already clearly defined around notions of proper sexual citizenship, with newly independent states promoting the nuclear family as a marker of national identity and key to controlling population and promoting economic growth (Jones, 1995). From Singapore (Teo, 2011) and Malaysia (Stivens, 2006) to Indonesia (Hoon, 2004), the ‘Asian family’ became the institution through which individuals were granted full citizenship (Platt et al., 2018). For instance, in order to access state-funded housing, reproductive health care, or educational services, individuals needed to be embedded in recognised familial structures. Indonesia proved an exemplary case, with President Suharto (1965–98) consolidating power by positioning himself as father of the nation and proposing the family principle (asas kekeluargaan) to frame heterosexuality as the proper symbol of citizenship (Bennett, 2005; Blackburn, 2004; Brenner, 2011). Contemporary notions of sexual citizenship in Asia stem from this early overt regulation and crafting of the sexual self. Given its complexity, I explore meanings of sexual citizenship in the second section.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Sage Handbook of Global Sexualities
EditorsZoe Davy, Ana Cristina Santos, Chiara Bertone, Ryan Thoreson, Saskia E. Wieringa
Place of PublicationLondon UK
PublisherSAGE Publications Ltd
Number of pages17
ISBN (Print)9781526424129
Publication statusPublished - 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Indonesia
  • gender
  • Sexuality

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