LGBT Politics in Germany: Unification As a Catalyst for Change

Thursday, July 13, 2017
Gilbert Scott Building - Room 356 (University of Glasgow)
Louise K. Davidson-Schmich , University of Miami
The two and a half decades since unification have brought about significant paradigm changes in German social policies toward lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) citizens including, inter alia, the legalization of same-sex partnerships and the adoption of reforms allowing individuals to change their legal gender without divorcing or undergoing irrevocable surgeries. This paper investigates developments that led the government of the Federal Republic, long dominated by socially conservative Christian Democrats, to extend greater rights to sexual minorities in the years following unification. The explanation lies in LGBT activists’ use of what van der Vleuten (2005) refers to as “pincer” tactics, working not only at the national but also at the European level to pressure reluctant domestic actors. Unification proved a critical juncture on both fronts, leading to the creation of a politically-influential, pan-German LGBT organization at the domestic level and to institutional changes conducive to LGBT activism at the European Union level.
  • CES 2017 Davidson Schmich LGBT Politics in Germany.pdf (246.0 kB)