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Writing the History of the International LGBT Rights Movement

19 September 2019 | 15:00 - 17:00


Please join us on September 19 for a lecture by Laura Belmonte, Dean of the Virginia Tech College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, who will present from her forthcoming book on the history of international LGBT rights activism. David Paternotte, Associate Professor of Sociology at Université Libre de Bruxelles and author of several works on the NGO-ization of LGBT activism, will provide commentary on the lecture. Afterwards, all are welcome for a festive reception to celebrate the launch of LQHN’s second year.

Geopolitical Complexities and Stark Contrasts

The global landscape of international lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights is fraught with geopolitical complexities and stark contrasts. In 2019, 123 of the 193 member states of the United Nations have legalized consensual same-sex sexual acts, but sixty-eight countries criminalize such behavior, including six nations that impose the death penalty. Another twenty-six states punish same-sex sexual acts with sentences ranging between ten years and life imprisonment. While twenty-six countries have legalized same-sex marriage and seventy-three have nondiscrimination protections for gays and lesbians, thirty-two nations have “morality” laws that restrict freedom of expression relating to sexual orientation and gender identity.

‘Victory’ for Global LGBT Equality?

These triumphs and challenges reflect a long arc of transnational LGBT advocacy efforts dating from the mid-nineteenth-century to the present day. It is a trajectory that has involved individuals, informal networks, non-governmental organizations, and states who have not always worked in concert and who often meet resistance from a similar constellation of actors determined to stop the global movement for LGBT equality. Using selected historical figures, organizations, and events to illuminate critical junctures in the global LGBT movement, this lecture asks us to contemplate whether “victory” for global LGBT equality is possible, what such success might look like, and what actions the global community could take to facilitate that aim.


Leiden Queer History Network


Leiden University
Pieterskerkhof 6
Leiden, 2311 SR Netherlands
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