As lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) advocates around the globe have fought to gain rights and recognition, their shared endeavors and coordinated activism have given rise to an international LGBT movement. Over the past century, advocates around the world have recognized common aims and collaborated in formal and informal ways to advance the broader cause of sexual equality worldwide. Advocates in different contexts have often connected their struggles, borrowing concepts and strategies from one another and campaigning together in regional and international forums. In doing so, they have pressed for goals as diverse as the decriminalization of sexual activity; recognition of same-sex partnerships and rainbow families; bodily autonomy and recognition for transgender and intersex people; nondiscrimination protections; and acceptance by families, faith communities, and the public at large. At times, the international LGBT movement—or, to be more accurate, LGBT movements—have used tactics as diverse as public education, lobbying and legislative campaigns, litigation, and direct action to achieve their aims. The result has been a gradual shift toward recognizing LGBT rights globally, with these rights gaining traction in formal law and policy as well as in public opinion and the agendas of activists working for human rights and social justice. The movement’s aims have also broadened, being attentive to new issues and drawing common cause with other campaigns for bodily autonomy and equal rights. At the same time, gains have triggered ferocious backlash, both against LGBT rights and against broader efforts to promote comprehensive sexuality education, access to abortion, the decriminalization of sex work, and other sexual rights. Understanding this advocacy requires consideration of important milestones in global LGBT organizing; how LGBT rights have been taken up as human rights by domestic, regional, and international bodies; and some of the main challenges that LGBT advocates have faced in contexts around the globe.
Jacob R. Neiheisel
Shaped by Marxist understandings of religion as a source of comfort, but not action, numerous scholars have explored whether various aspects of religion can be linked to participatory acts, either in politics or in civic life more generally. Decades of social scientific research on the subject offer no simple lessons regarding the relationship between religion and participation. Some elements or aspects of religion have been demonstrated to drive down levels of civic and political engagement. Although the whole picture is much more complicated, it is accurate to say that private devotionalism and other facets of religious belief that emphasize individual spirituality and a relationship with the divine over taking steps to improve conditions on Earth are going to promote detachment from the civic realm. By contrast, collective aspects of religious belief and practice often track with greater levels of political participation. These collective elements include the creation of religiously based social networks, as well as opportunities to practice civic skills and receive entreaties to political action. At a different level of analysis, government action on such moral issues as abortion and same-sex marriage has served as a spur to the political involvement of religious interests, whereas government regulation of religion has been shown to deter participation in the civic arena by religious organizations and groups. Taken together, the literature on religion and participation suggests that religion can serve as both a spur to civic and political engagement and as a suppressant, depending both on an individual’s approach to his or her faith and on the institutional dynamics that impinge on the political involvement of religious interests in the public square more generally.
Since Lebanon’s independence in the mid-1940s, its military—the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF)—has played a pivotal role in the country’s politics. The political role of the LAF in Lebanon might seem surprising since the Lebanese state did not militarize, and its political leaders have continuously managed to keep their military relatively weak and small. Indeed, in this respect Lebanon has been markedly different from its close neighbors (Syria and Israel), but also from several other Middle Eastern states (especially Egypt and Iraq), where the military, which was large and powerful, was continuously involved in politics. Additionally, both Lebanon and the LAF have persistently striven to distance themselves from regional conflicts since 1949, particularly in relation to the Palestinian issue, albeit not always successfully. Still, and despite these ostensibly unfavorable factors for the military’s involvement in politics in Lebanon, the LAF has played an important political role in the state since its independence. This role, which has been marked by elements of continuity and change over the years, included mediation and arbitration between rival political factions (in 1945–1958, 2008, 2011, and 2019); attempts to dominate the political system (in 1958–1970 and 1988–1990); intervention in the Lebanese civil war (in 1975–1976 and 1982–1984); attempts to regain its balancing role in politics (in 1979–1982 and 1984–1988); and facilitating the state’s postwar reconstruction (since 1991). The political role of the military in Lebanon can be explained by several factors. First, the weakness of Lebanon’s political system and its inability to resolve crises between its members. Second, Lebanon’s divided society and its members’ general distrust towards its civilian politicians. Third, the basic characteristics of Lebanon’s military, which, in most periods, enjoyed broad public support that cuts across the lines of community, region, and family, and found appeal among domestic and external audiences, which, in their turn, acquiesced to its political role in the state.