80 Pages Posted: 15 Nov 2002
This article explores the implications of civil rights protections based on sexual orientation from a transnational perspective. In Exporting Identity, the author argues that current models of gay civil rights, with their overreliance on identity-based categories of protection, can paradoxically exclude the very people such categories are designed to protect.
This problem becomes especially apparent (and exacerbated) as gay civil rights movements emerge across the globe. For example, although there is certainly an appreciable emergence of self-identified "gay" or "lesbian" individuals throughout the developing world, many activists and scholars often fail to recognize that arguments for constitutional protection on the basis of sexual orientation often collide with, rather than incorporate, preexisting cultural and social meanings of same-sex sexual activity.
By exploring alternative permutations of the relationship between identity and same-sex sexual conduct, the author argues that we can come to a better understanding of some of the complexities that accompany nascent gay civil rights movements in other cultural contexts. This understanding, in turn, casts a new light over America's own battles over gay rights in the United States, because these differences highlight the importance of privacy and autonomy over identity-based categories of constitutional protection.
Keywords: International Human Rights, Sexual Orientation, Transgender Rights, Gay Civil Rights
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