International Handbooks on Gender series
Edited by Jill Steans and Daniela Tepe
Chapter 19: LGBTI rights: the international context
The simplicity of the term ‘lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex rights’ (LGBTI) belies the complexity of the ongoing struggle for justice and the double-edged sword of legal recognition and regulation. Legal restrictions on LGBTI individuals include: the ongoing criminalization and regulation of same-sex sexual practices and intimate relationships (in, for example, Nigeria or Iran); restrictions on the way LGBTI individuals form families via for example adoption or fertility or surrogacy practices (in, for example, Portugal, Italy or Australia); restrictions on access to employment or housing (in, for example, India or Chad); restrictions on the formation of activist networks and publicity of LGBTI solidarity and politics (in, for example, Russia or Belarus); restrictions on trans people’s ability to legally change their gender and the punitive consequences of expressing non-gender-normative identity (in, for example, Romania or Malaysia); and excessive medical intervention in the lives of intersex individuals (in, for example, Australia or the USA). There is no singular avenue used to achieve LGBTI rights, nor definitive consensus on the type of rights that LGBTI individuals ought to be claiming. Legal restrictions on LGBTI rights are often challenged using legal arguments relying on broader rights to civil and political equality, including the right to privacy, freedom of speech or rights to marriage and family life via national law, drawing on international conventions (for example, the European Convention on Human Rights, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights).
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