This chapter explores why norms governing LGBT rights mobilize a backlash and/or enduring resistance in some cases and not in others. It explores the phenomena of resistance at two related levels. First, based on a comparison of Poland and Slovenia, I trace how differing perceptions of threat define the way international norms are received in distinct domestic realms. Second, I explore threat perception and resistance as part of the emerging phenomena of norm polarization at the global level. Such polarization refers to a process in which states resist norms by purposively taking contradictory positions on the same norm, leading to norm indeterminacy.
Crisis, Accountability, and Opportunity
Phillip M. Ayoub
Phillip M. Ayoub
The chapter offers an account of the transnational process of movement mobilization surrounding LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans*) activism in Europe. For a movement that has emerged with speed and suddenness on the global stage of 21st century activism, it sheds lights on the transnational dynamics of mobilizing new actors and new identities across borders. It thus builds on earlier conceptions of national political opportunity structures for mobilization, to further explore how they interact with regional institutions. Specifically, the author asks: How do LGBT minorities organize across borders? How do identities and skills travel and adapt in various national contexts? The findings suggest that LGBT activism relies on transnational resources – primarily, social spaces and organizational capacity – that are scarce in many member states but readily available in others. These opportunities among member states serve as mobilizing structures that bring together distinct groups of international actors. Internationalization also alters the tactics that transnational actors use when engaging with authorities in the target state. Employing socialization mechanisms that highlight appropriate behavior, actors tactically frame their demands in a European discourse by associating the issue of LGBT acceptance with democratic responsibilities as members of the European Union community.
Phillip M. Ayoub
With the rejection of claims made by LGBT movements in many states, and amidst a global politics marred by exclusionary populism and nationalism, LGBT rights are increasingly contradicted on the world stage. This chapter explores the tensions between the transnational diffusion of LGBT rights and a “traditional values” politics championed by an emerging global opposition – as well as LGBT activists’ instrumental reframing and translation of “traditional values” and “family values” norms as a direct response. This chapter analyzes how LGBT rights advocacy, within distinct contexts, innovatively addresses these imagined contradictions in rights. It is this process that comes into play when contested rights clash with the arguments of rival movements and global counter norms. Faced with competing claims about new norms governing sexuality – especially those that problematically conflate sexual rights with the external imposition of “Western” power over the “vulnerable” states – local LGBT activists respond with the practice of translation.