YOUR LETTERS

Break-ups and same-sex third party: Divorce best navigated with support

We applaud The Sunday Times for a sensitively written report ("When the third party is a same-sex partner"; last Sunday).

As a counselling and support organisation working with lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) individuals, couples and families, Oogachaga has some professional experience with clients who find themselves in similar predicaments. Some clients may already be in a committed relationship or marriage with the opposite sex and troubled by their feelings of attraction towards someone of the same sex, as a lesbian, gay or bisexual person.

Others have reported feelings of anxiety about disclosing their gender identity to a spouse, or may feel isolated as they struggle in their journey of questioning their sexual orientation and/or gender identity, while still staying married.

In Singapore, even as consensual same-sex behaviour between adult men is still criminalised, the fact remains: Divorce is legal, while being transgender, lesbian or unfaithful to one's spouse is not illegal.

Existing legislation provides a clear definition of marriage here, yet we know marital commitment is a personal decision that most people do not take lightly.

The report notes that some lawyers have observed that divorces where the third party is a same-sex partner are more commonplace as society is "more accepting", and that it is now "more acceptable" to pursue one's own happiness.

Although this may be true for some, for others, the pressure of family and social expectations to marry, and to marry someone of the opposite sex, remains.

Divorce, for whatever reason, can be traumatic and painful, especially if children are involved. It is a process that is best navigated with support from understanding family members and friends, along with appropriate psycho-social support from the Family Justice Courts and professional social service agencies.

We agree with the comment that in this hetero-normative society we live in, it is common for LGBTQ individuals to repress their feelings "to conform to social norms". However, as we progress socially, we have also developed an increasing acceptance of divorce as an option instead of a taboo, hopefully alongside an increasing awareness of diversities in sexual orientations and gender identities.

Leow Yangfa

Executive Director

Oogachaga

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on May 22, 2016, with the headline 'Break-ups and same-sex third party: Divorce best navigated with support'. Print Edition | Subscribe