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Global Homophobia

Global Homophobia: States, Movements, and the Politics of Oppression

Meredith L. Weiss
Michael J. Bosia
Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 288
  • Book Info
    Global Homophobia
    Book Description:

    While homophobia is commonly characterized as individual and personal prejudice, this collection of essays instead explores homophobia as a transnational political phenomenon. Contributors theorize homophobia as a distinct configuration of repressive state-sponsored policies and practices with their own causes, explanations, and effects on how sexualities are understood and experienced in a range of national contexts. The essays include a broad range of geographic cases, including Cameroon, Ecuador, Iran, Lebanon, Poland, Singapore, and the United States.

    eISBN: 978-0-252-09500-9
    Subjects: Sociology, Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-xii)
  4. 1 Political Homophobia in Comparative Perspective
    (pp. 1-29)

    The wave of anti-authoritarian revolts that began to roll across the Middle East and North Africa in 2011 coincided with another contemporary trend: a widespread, caustic focus on sexuality, in the form of overtly political homophobia. Egypt figures in both. Among the most striking incidents in contemporary homophobia was Cairo’s 2001 “Queen Boat” case, which saw fifty-two men prosecuted in a special national-security court on charges related to same-sex intimacy. A decade later, as Hosni Mubarak toppled from power, the Muslim Brotherhood and the military filled the vacuum; after decades of authoritarianism, few other social forces could hope to do...

  5. 2 Why States Act: Homophobia and Crisis
    (pp. 30-54)

    As the U.S. war on terror shifted to Iraq during the winter of 2002, French police arrested more than twenty members of Act Up Paris when they splattered fake blood on the walls of the Saudi embassy. There to denounce the beheading of three men punished for same-sex intimacy, they demanded that their government extend the right to exile to sexual minorities and challenged French support for regimes that engage in persecution. Such actions indicate a shift in the LGBT struggle. Though global organizing began with the International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA) in 1978, and the International Gay and...

  6. 3 America’s Cold War Empire: Exporting the Lavender Scare
    (pp. 55-74)

    In 1952, in the midst of the Cold War struggle that dominated international relations and effectively divided the world into two armed camps, Canadian officials discovered a security breach within the Communications Branch of the National Research Council (CBNRC), the highly secret agency that monitored radio signals from the Soviet Union. They discovered that a middle-management employee in the CBNRC was gay. Although unconcerned about his loyalty or integrity, they immediately sought his resignation. As a Canadian intelligence expert explained, “The authorities feared more than anything that the Americans would find out.” Canada’s closest neighbor and ally, the United States,...

  7. 4 The Marriage of Convenience: The U.S. Christian Right, African Christianity, and Postcolonial Politics of Sexual Identity
    (pp. 75-102)

    In what seemed like a “win” for the progressive movement in Uganda and across the globe, the infamous Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2009 (hereafter referred to AHB 2009), authored and introduced in Uganda’s eighth parliament in October 2009 by David Bahati, had not been acted upon when parliament closed on May 13, 2011. In February 2012, this private member’s bill, also known as the “Kill the Gays” bill, was reintroduced in the ninth parliament of Uganda. In October 2012, the bill received new life after Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird challenged Ugandan Parliament Speaker Rebecca Kadaga at the Inter-Parliamentary Union in Quebec...

  8. 5 Gay Rights and Political Homophobia in Postcommunist Europe: Is there an “EU Effect”?
    (pp. 103-126)

    If the recent past has witnessed an international trend toward increasing recognition and contestation of the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people, then postcommunist Europe is also, perhaps surprisingly, a part of the trend. Why should its inclusion be surprising? As I will describe below, communism left a profoundly destructive legacy in this sphere, bequeathing a history of state repression of gays, lesbians, and bisexuals,¹ broad-based homophobic attitudes in society (at least in comparison to Western Europe), and a more general phenomenon of weak civil society. These legacies made homosexuality a taboo topic after 1989, and the...

  9. 6 Sexual Politics and Constitutional Reform in Ecuador: From Neoliberalism to the Buen Vivir
    (pp. 127-148)

    In 2008, the Latin American and Caribbean Committee for the Defense of Women’s Rights (CLADEM) released a report documenting violence against lesbian, bisexual, transsexual, transgender, and intersex women in Ecuador (Varea and Cordero 2008). Specifically, the report addresses the practice of reparative therapy in “rehabilitation centers” (centros de rehabilitación), where primarily women perceived as lesbian are forced to undergo various kinds of therapy, including electric shock therapy (Varea and Cordero 2008). The report demands the immediate closure of these centers, which aim to “dehomosexualize” lesbians. The authors state, “In these clinics physical and psychological punishment is practiced, including verbal humiliation,...

  10. 7 Prejudice before Pride: Rise of an Anticipatory Countermovement
    (pp. 149-173)

    The literature on social movements and contentious politics differentiates broadly, if somewhat imprecisely (see Lowery et al. 2005), between initial movement mobilization and reactive countermobilization. The sequence is implied, if not explicit: mobilization comes first.¹ And yet transnational discursive flows in particular may help to shift the sequence, yielding a form of anticipatory countermobilization. Present-day mobilization for and against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights offers a stark example: rather than wait for an expected onslaught of LGBT rights claims, groups and individuals opposed to those claims have mobilized preemptively against them, deeming an eventual advocacy movement both teleologically...

  11. 8 Homophobia as a Tool of Statecraft: Iran and Its Queers
    (pp. 174-195)

    Observers tend to see homophobia, as it relates to the politics of the Middle East, as a legitimate response, indeed the only one available to region’s governments faced with the concerted “incitement to discourse” of Western human-rights groups (Massad 2002 and 2007); or as a result of the dissemination of homophobic norms from antigay networks in the West (Kaoma, this volume); or as a function of religion, Islam in particular.¹ As probable as the first two explanatory factors may be, they overestimate the power of human-rights and homophobic networks, and underestimate the reach and agency of Middle Eastern states. We,...

  12. 9 Navigating International Rights and Local Politics: Sexuality Governance in Postcolonial Settings
    (pp. 196-217)

    As the world focuses its attention on the Arab/Muslim world against a backdrop of seemingly endless counterterrorism efforts, attempts to “accommodate” “cultural” issues with “Islam,” and a wave of democratic Arab Spring revolts (and ensuing repression), one wonders whether trends in international human rights have been responsive to local political and historical contexts. More importantly, why have human-rights efforts in the Arab/Muslim world produced outcomes that often seem surprising? In December 2011, Hillary Clinton made the much-publicized announcement that: “Gay people are born into and belong to every society in the world.” As if to remove any doubt she curiously...

  13. 10 Theorizing the Politics of (Homo) Sexualities across Cultures
    (pp. 218-245)

    This essay takes as its starting point an event in the history of sexuality, more specifically in the history of sexuality as a political issue.¹ In recent years, vastly diverse movements around the politics of sexuality have embraced the notion of “sexual rights.” These “sexual rights” have been enunciated and have gained recognition around the world. This concept developed rapidly especially since the UN Conference on Women in Beijing (1995) and in the wake of the global AIDS pandemic (see Petchesky, 2001). More recently, rights specific to sexual orientation and gender identity have gained prominence, for instance with a 2011...

  14. 11 Conclusion: On the Interplay of State Homophobia and Homoprotectionism
    (pp. 246-254)

    Referring to bias, discriminatory actions, attitudes, or beliefs directed toward people that either have or are perceived as having non-heterosexual identities such as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people (LGBTQ), the termhomophobiahas been used by LGBTQ groups since the early 1970s to organize against discrimination and persecution. The essays in this volume center specifically on state homophobia, or what some authors call political homophobia, a neglected category of analysis, especially given its high-profile and often violent deployment in several contexts across the globe, and convincingly assert that states mobilize, consolidate, and foment homophobia to further particular ends,...

  15. Contributors
    (pp. 255-258)
  16. Index
    (pp. 259-267)
  17. Back Matter
    (pp. 268-268)