Tuesday, 11 October 2011

The Lesbian and Gay Movement and the State, edited by David Paternotte et al


While LGBT issues were long considered to be privileged issues associated with advanced democracies, they are now discussed throughout the world, reflecting an unprecedented globalization process of sexualities and sexual identities.

The Lesbian and Gay movement is newer, involves less people and is less-widely spread over the world than better established movements, such as the women's or the workers' movement.

Since the lesbian and gay movement is closely associated with intimacy and sexuality, its study may appear as shameful or one that risks questioning or disclosing the sexual preferences of researchers.

"...A challenge to the liberal conception of the political, LGBT/queer studies have expanded what politics is conceived to be both for liberal theory and for the discipline fo political science."

"Political science and theory have also often been descrbed as traditionally heteronormative."

"We try to discuss whether there is, empirically, a 'straight state' and whether it is the same everywhere, whether it varies through time and space and whether it is under increasing challenge."

"Most definitions of social movements emphasize the relationship to the state."

Social movements are 'a sustained series of interactions between the state and challenging groups' (1995: 5)

Newer understandings of social movements stress that social movements "nmay address other and/or multiple targets, such as economic interests, religious groups or beliefs and even cultural norms, insisting on strategies related to the construction of meaning, and can decide to concentrate on consciousness-raising, identity-building or self-help."

"The state is not always autonomous from civil society and major social cleavages, nor is it always secularly. Similarly, the state in a post-community, a post-colonial or a third world country does not necessarily take the same forms as in the Western world."

"The state is now almost systematically addressed by Western gay and lesbian activists, who often regard it as a key tool and an ally to change gender and sexual relationships through rights and policies."

"While not claiming a universal application, we decided that a focus on movements related to gay and lesbian identity categories would still be useful because these categories are so prevalent, not only in the west but also in a range of other countries."

Belgium: The Paradoxical Strength of Disunion

  • "Belgium was long considered as an overtly 'straight' and Catholic state opposed to the tolerant Netherlands and secular France.
  • "The specific culture of Belgian society, consociationalism, has helped lesbian and gay activists overcome the weaknesses ensuing from their internal divisions and their rather conservative environment."
  • "Consociationalism can be described as 'a particular style of consensual politics that is a response to the sociocultural background of heterogenous societies characterized by centrifugal tendencies'
  • "The notion of homophily itself, as a distinct and less sexualized concept than homosexuality, was in use until the mid-80s."
  • "Belgian queers may simultaneously advocate a queer politics and support claims such as same-sex marriage using a human rights framework."
  • "The linguistic division of the gay and lesbian movement mirrors the main cleavage of Belgian society in recent times."
  • In Belgium, argues Paternotte, the state and civil society are quite closely intertwined.
  • In France, for instance, both the state and political elites are more reluctant to accept advocacy groups in policy-making processes, and this country is characterized by a greater autonomy of the state, which relies on mechanisms such as the production of distinctive state elites, and the closure of the political system to civil society claims."
  • "We could wonder whether such [Belgian] processes are facilitating a neo-corporatization of gay and lesbian politics."
  • "For Belgian activists, change is more effective if it does not make noise, and often follows a gradual pace."
  • "In conclusion, while the state has shaped the movement in some ways, it has also been infleunced by a broader political and social context which it has had to adapt to and which has also impacted on the movement."

United Kingdom by Kelly Kollman and Matthew Waites
  • "Despitre recent policy successes the UK has lagged behind its West European neighbours both in terms of implementing legal protections and developing grassroots movement organizations."
  • "It is not surprising that the most prominent LGB rights organizations adopted somewhat elitist organizational styles, without mass memebrship, relyign on either informal access to like-minded policymakers or high profile personalities to gain influence."
  • "Analytically distinguishing NGOs from movements..."

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