Pride and Its Discontents. Sexual Politics, Secularism, and Cultural Alterity

Friday, July 14, 2017
Gilbert Scott Building - Room 656A (University of Glasgow)
Paul Mepschen , Political Sociology / Anthropology, University of Amsterdam / Leiden University
The equality and civil rights of LGBTQs have become core elements of (struggles over) European self-representation and identity. The rights and formal equality of LGBTQs are now enshrined in the treaties and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, and play a role in political debates within European institutional structures. These developments at the level of the EU as a supranational body are interconnected with developments at other levels. Throughout Europe, national governments have implemented - or are now pressured to implement - new frames for the recognition of sexual diversity. As a result, a ‘progressive’ European discourse on gender equality and sexual equality has become pivotal to the redrawing of symbolic boundaries between communities and groups within European nations/states/societies. The importance of this discourse demonstrates the relative success of the women’s movement and the lesbian & gay movement in establishing gender equality and sexual citizenship as ‘European ideals’ within the project of European unification and identity building. As such, it offers an idiom that underscores a logic that distinguishes self-proclaimed progressive Europe from what is deemed non- European. These developments are not without their local effects and consequences. Political and civil society interventions in the realms of sexuality and gender have profoundly affected people’s everyday lives; have generated various local and national responses; and have inspired a range of social and political mobilizations across the continent. This paper will reflect on these dynamics from the perspective of LGBTQ pride politics in the Netherlands.