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LGBTI Human Rights in Global Politics  

Phillip M. Ayoub

Transnational organizing by groups dedicated to promoting the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) people is not a particularly new phenomenon, though it remained rare in the early decades of the 20th century. It was not until the advent of the sexual liberation movement in the late 1960s and early 1970s that LGBTI issues became more prominent. Moreover, despite their diversity, these transnational groups and networks have been able to speak with an increasingly unified voice, setting out a relatively coherent vision for global LGBTI human rights organizing. Over the past three decades, transnational LGBTI human rights activists have become increasingly successful in getting their voices heard and demands met within prominent international organizations such as the European Union and the United Nations. This success, however, has varied dramatically across international organizations and among the states they represent. Perhaps not surprisingly, given the Western origins and biases of transnational LGBTI movements and human rights principles, as well as the greater levels of tolerance toward homosexuality in the region, LGBTI rights organizations have had their greatest successes in Europe. Generally speaking, however, there has been a significant expansion of LGBTI rights over the past 30 years, even if it has come with a notable backlash and resistance. Yet despite these dramatic developments, the study of LGBTI politics has remained peripheral to most fields within the discipline of political science. This is slowly changing thanks to a proliferation of scholarship, including bridge-building work and an empirical turn, that is moving LGBTI research slightly closer to the center of the field.