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Article

LGBT Movements in Taiwan, Hong Kong, and China  

Travis S. K. Kong, Hsiao-wei Kuan, Sky H. L. Lau, and Sara L. Friedman

Although Taiwan, Hong Kong, and China broadly share common social and cultural norms rooted in Confucian values and culturally Chinese family ideals, they have developed distinct political and economic trajectories since 1949 that have created very different possibilities for LGBT movements. Coming from the conservative political, social, and moral milieu of the 1950s through the 1970s, in the 1980s and 1990s, these societies witnessed a blooming of sexually alternative, even queer, cultural productions, commercial venues, and political activism, together with distinctive “gay,” “lesbian,” or tongzhi identities, among other self-identification labels. By the late 20th century, flows of people, ideas, concepts, and relationships had grown increasingly salient for emerging terms of identification and modes of organizing in all three societies. The diverse combinations of democracy, socialism, authoritarianism, and postcolonialism have shaped the content and direction of sexuality-based identities and sexual rights movements in these three societies. How explicitly these communities pursued visibility and claimed sexually specific identities, however, varied significantly both internally and in comparison across the three societies. The shared histories have created significant commonalities across the region; yet the different degrees of physical and societal openness and the extent of access to domestic and foreign interlocutors in these three societies have produced striking differences in LGBT citizens’ ability to claim diverse rights and protections under multifaceted forms of sexual citizenship.

Article

Public Policies Toward LGBT People and Rights in Latin America  

José Fernando Serrano-Amaya, Manuel Alejandro Rodríguez Rondón, and Natalia Daza-Niño

In the last 20 years, several countries in Latin America have sought uneven and disparate legal transformations affecting the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals and collectives. These new legal measures have taken place simultaneously, with deepening structures of social, gender, and sexual injustice challenging their view as indicators of progressive change. In this contradictory context, LGBT social policies have emerged as a specialized field of state action because of two parallel trends: the macro political politics affecting the region, and the accumulated experience of gender and sexual social mobilizations in their interactions with the state. There are many variations of this emerging field of social policies because it is shaped by the meaning provided by local actors such as interest groups, activists, and policy makers, and their translation into policy lobbying, policymaking, and policy negotiation. As result of these innovations, gender identity and sexual orientation have nowadays entered into the language of policymaking and policy implementation. These legal measures have opened spaces for social and political participation that were not there before. Nevertheless, LGBT policies are new regimes of governmentality that control the inclusion of gender and sexual social mobilizations into citizenship and democracy.

Article

Europe’s LGBT Movement  

Douglas Page

Research on LGBT+ politics in Europe grew over the past few decades, paralleling societal changes regarding increased support for LGBT+ people. Competing examples of the two themes that are structured by support of LGBT+ people regarding LGBT+ rights, “progress/advancement” and “backlash/losses,” show the growing substantiation of gay rights and tolerance over the past few decades. Political debates regarding LGBT+ rights also have engendered more organized opposition to LGBT+ rights, often in the form of right-wing movements. Studies often are structured around public opinion, policy/legislation, or social movements. Critical theory regarding LGBT+ politics in Europe unpacks the implications of contemporary identity categories and political activities (that structure political science research), and the resulting exclusions especially with regard to gender identity. The following research objectives can help expand the study of LGBT+ politics in Europe: (1) to build from existing historical research regarding the social and legal construction of gender, sexuality, and the regulation of homosexuality, (2) to situate Europe in a global context which shows that European states increased persecution against homosexuality around the world, (3) to carry out more explicitly intersectional studies that show how groups representing multiple identities and institutional contexts can cooperate when facing intersecting sources of marginalization, and (4) to illuminate how sexual violence can stem from political institutions and recognize sexual violence as a central component of gender and sexuality.

Article

Legislative and Judicial Politics of LGBT Rights in the European Union  

Uladzislau Belavusau

Since the 1980s, the law of the European Union (EU) has become a substantial transnational source of political empowerment for LGBT actors in Europe. The Rome Treaty (1957), which established the European Economic Community, contained a gender equality clause. In the 1990s, this provision was used to protect employment rights of intersex individuals via litigation schemes based on EU law. Yet the subsequent attempts to push forward a similar legal protection for gay and lesbian equality at the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), based on the EU sex-equality clause, failed. Since then, the position of the LGBT community in EU legislative politics has evolved significantly through two dimensions. First, the Amsterdam Treaty (1997) extended the number of grounds protected against discrimination in EU law, adding sexual orientation, among others, to this palette. The Amsterdam Treaty permitted the EU Council to adopt the Framework Equality Directive 2000/78/EC, an instrument of secondary Union law that has safeguarded minimum standards of protection against homophobia in relation to matters of employment in all member states. This framework EU legislation has been used by LGBT litigants in their fight for equal working opportunities and pension rights at the CJEU. Second, the introduction of EU citizenship by virtue of the Maastricht Treaty (1992) and the respective secondary law (the EU Citizenship Directive 2004/38/EC) have paved the way for status recognition of same-sex spouses in the member states that have not previously recognized same-sex partnership or marriage. The future of LGBT legislative politics and the LGBT community in Europe will largely depend on whether EU law is able to extend protection beyond the current confines of the employment area, broaden its scope to cover social dimensions such as health and education, and fully recognize same-sex marriages and partnerships throughout the EU.

Article

Regulation of Sexuality in the Global South  

Michelle L. Dion

Government regulation of sexuality includes prohibitions on same-sex intimacy, formation of families, and related rights of LGBT+ people due to their sexual orientation or gender identities. Countries in the Global South tend to lag behind those in the Global North in the recognition of LGBT+ rights, which overall tend to expand incrementally over time in response to LGBT+ activism, diffusion of international norms, and national economic, political and social context. Basic civil rights, including legalization of same-sex intimacy and marriage, are often a necessary precondition for LGBT+ access to the political right to organize and mobilize as an interest group as well as other social rights, such as health care and parental rights. In the developing world, Argentina and South Africa have been regional leaders in LGBT+ rights, and Latin America countries have tended to broaden protections earlier than countries at similar levels of development in Sub-Saharan Africa or Asia. Overall, in the early 21st century, the landscape of LGBT+ civil rights changed rapidly, while some political and social rights still lag behind.

Article

Russian and Eastern European LGBT Movements and Interest Groups  

Conor O'Dwyer

The development of LGBT movements and interest groups in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union reflects the region’s unique political development with respect to the experience of communism, the transition to democracy in the 1990s, the expanding influence of international institutions like the European Union (EU), and, most recently, trends of democratic backsliding and even reversion to outright authoritarian rule in some countries. Each of these aspects of the region’s political development has engendered debate among scholars and activists. There is consensus that the experience of communism strongly circumscribed not only the possibilities for activism but also, in some instances, even the possibilities for articulating LGBT identities. Nevertheless, a survey of the scholarship on postcommunist LGBT politics indicates divergent trajectories between countries of the former Soviet Union, where LGBT identities are less established and activism is less organized, and the former satellite states of Eastern Europe, whose experience under communism was shorter and, arguably, less intense. Without ignoring the evident deficits of Eastern Europe’s LGBT activism in the 1990s, its LGBT people benefited relative to counterparts in the former Soviet Union from a generally more successful transition to democracy and a greater degree of exposure to West European institutions, in particular the EU. The process of applying for EU membership, many scholars argue, advantaged these countries’ LGBT movements vis-à-vis their counterparts in the former Soviet Union by pressuring national governments to be more accommodating and by socializing elites and publics to Western Europe’s comparatively tolerant values and LGBT rights norms. Adjusting to these norms was sometimes contentious, but several scholars argue that, where conservative backlash against LGBT rights occurred during the EU’s first round of expansion in 2004 to 2007, it generally helped domestic activism by increasing its visibility and level of organization. Not all are so optimistic about the EU’s impact on LGBT activism, however, particularly those studying Yugoslavia’s successor states, for whom the EU accession process occurred later or is still ongoing. These scholars emphasize the difficulties of squaring EU norms about LGBT rights with national identity, particularly given the EU’s sometimes colonial-like relations with postcommunist societies. Others note that transnational rights advocacy supported by the EU has been matched by the rise of transnational antigay activism, and that the clash of transnational activism stalemates domestic progress on LGBT-friendly policies. Such critiques appear increasingly relevant as trends of democratic backsliding have emerged since the 2010 world financial crisis in former “success cases” of postcommunist transition and EU integration, notably Hungary and Poland. The latter’s democratic backsliding occurs within the larger context of Russia’s reversion to authoritarianism after the brief political opening of the 1990s. Across these three countries, governing elites have shown a readiness to make use of LGBT issues to define their illiberal ideologies and to mobilize voters. Whether these developments portend a narrowing of differences among LGBT movements in the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe is a key question for future scholars.