Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR)

4-5 August - Proud In Europe? LGBTI Emancipation in Comparative Perspective

In August 2016 the city of Amsterdam will host Europride. In the two days preceding the canal parade an international scientific conference will take place in collaboration with the Amsterdam Research Center for Gender and Sexuality (ARC-GS) of the University of Amsterdam (UvA) and its partners.The conference takes Europride as an occasion to question and compare the state of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) emancipation within Europe.

This two-day conference will offer a space to reflect from different European contexts on gains made in the fight for LGBTI rights as well as blind spots and pitfalls encountered on the way. The focus of the conference will be on tracing developments regarding LGBTI politics throughout Europe from various perspectives and disciplines from the social and behavioural sciences, the humanities, and law. 

Confirmed Speakers

Surya Monro gained her PhD from the University of Sheffield in 2000 and joined the School of Human and Health Sciences at the University of Huddersfield in 2009. Her first sole authored book, Gender Politics: Activism, Citizenship and Sexual Diversity, was published in 2005 by Pluto Press. Sexuality, Diversity and Equality (Palgrave MacMillan, with Professor Diane Richardson) came out in March 2012. Professor Monro’s sole-authored monograph Bisexuality. Identities, Politics, and Theories was published by Palgrave MacMillan in 2015. Professor Monro is the Acting Director the Centre for Research in the Social Sciences (CRISS) and convenes, together with Dr Sally Hines (University of Leeds) and Dr Jo Woodiwiss (University of Huddersfield), the Northern sexgen network. (Source:   

Phillip Ayoub is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Politics at Drexel University. He received his Ph.D. from the Department of Government at Cornell University in 2013. Ayoub is particularly interested in how the transnational mobilization of marginalized peoples and international channels of visibility influence socio-legal change across states. His book, titled When States Come Out: Europe’s Sexual Minorities and the Politics of Visibility, will be published by Cambridge University Press in April 2016. His publications have appeared or are forthcoming in the European Journal of International Relations, Mobilization, the European Political Science Review, the Journal of Human Rights, and Perspectives on Europe. (Source:

Paola Revenioti is an emblematic figure and pioneer of the Greek LGBT movement. She is a trans activist, artist and documentarist and sells sex to earn her living. Funded by her own prostitution, she published from 1981 to 1993 the trans-anarchist magazine Kraximo  (‘Gay bashing’). The magazine featured topics such as homosexual liberation, AIDS, male prostitution and interviews with Greek and international intellectuals and artists.  In the early 1990s, she organized the first gay prides in Athens. Paola is a founding member of the Greek branch of ACT UP and served as a director of the Solidarity Union for Transvestites and Transsexuals Greece. Since 2011, she directs documentary films on a broad range of topics. As an advocate of social equality and justice, the causes she supports are not only limited to LGBTI rights; she also fights against racism, fascism and anti-Semitism and supports the rights of migrants and refugees and other people who live at the margins of society.

Call for papers

Please see below for a list of panels to which paper proposals can be submitted. Paper proposals can be submitted from February 22, 2016 until March 31, 2016. Participants can register for the conference until July 1, 2016. Below you can find the links to the Call for Papers, the Submission Form for Papers and the Registration Link.

Panel 01: Pride and Prejudice: Queer Connections between Sexual Minority Emancipation and Religious Change

Panel organisers:

David Bos (VU University, Amsterdam Center for the Study of Lived Religion)

Heather R. White (University of Puget Sound)


LGB(TIQ) emancipation is commonly depicted as a cause at odds with religion. Both opponents and proponents frequently reinforce this perception: religious conservatives blame secularization for the “normalization” of queer sexuality, and advocates of sexual equality in turn blame religion as the root of societal prejudice and discrimination. However, a growing historical and sociological scholarship challenges these commonplace oppositions and calls for further examination of the complex social relationships between religion and modern movements for sexual and gender emancipation. This panel aims to clarify how religious movements—both conservative and progressive—and sexual emancipation movements have mattered to one another. Presenters will address international, comparative, and historical perspectives on this question. Our first aim is to challenge and rethink the assumed “secularization” of Western LGB movements. Although historians have sometimes credited the rise of sexual liberation movements to a context of 1960s and 70s religious decline, recent scholarship suggests the importance of liberal religious leaders and activists to this history. In both the US and parts of Europe, liberal Catholic and mainline Protestant clergy made important contributions to the acceptance of homosexuality. Our second aim is to carefully consider the complex role of religious conservatism on the galvanizing of sexual identity movements. The 1970s also saw the new resurgence of “strong religion” or so-called “fundamentalism,” which resisted secularism and militantly turned against gender equality and sexual liberation. Even in the familiar cases of polarized animosity, we should nonetheless inquire into how oppositional movements interpreted or instrumentalized one another’s presence and activities. While religious conservatives have referred to LGBTIQ movements to mobilize their supporters, the reverse is also true: religious conservatism served to galvanize LGBTIQ activism. To what extent did these oppositions function symbiotically? What long-term effects has this mutual interest had on sexual emancipation movements in Europe—and beyond? This panel welcomes historical and sociological papers on case studies from the 20th and 21st century European and North-American contexts that offer new perspectives on the complex interactions between sexual  liberation and religious change.

Panel 02: Sexual Justice?

Panel organisers:

Tom Claes (INSEP/ University of Ghent)

Paul Reynolds (INSEP/ Edge Hill University)


The concept of social justice has been central to the development of a democratic politics of equality, toleration, and respect for diversity. However, justice rarely appears in discussions of sexual politics, and when it does it is not clearly explored. Is it just another phrase in the fight for equality or citizenship? Does it mean a social respect and dignity for sexual difference or non-heterosexual people? Is it centred on legal treatment or redress against harm? What does it mean to have sexual justice? As part of a widening and deepening of the discussion around what a sexually free society would be and where we are in relation to it, this panel will explore the idea of sexual justice and its application to current sexual politics. Possible more concrete issues that might be addressed are: dimensions of sexual justice; the relations, similarities and differences between a notion of sexual justice and other versions like gender, social, and economic justice; how does a notion of sexual justice relate to notions of sexual rights and human rights?; levers for sexual justice, from human rights to the Yogyakarta Principles; sexual justice and grass-roots activism in a globalizing world of diversity.

Panel 03: Sexual Citizenship - Are We There Yet?

Panel organisers:

Paul Reynolds (INSEP/ Edge Hill University)

Tom Claes (INSEP/ University of Ghent)


For much of North America, Europe and Australasia, there is the perception that an agenda for non-heterosexuals to be recognised as citizens has largely been achieved.  This is exemplified in legal equalisation, cultural acceptances and a social and political transformation of attitudes to sexual relations, orientations and public space. This representation is exemplified in Weeks (2007) The World We Have Won in the UK, though the 'we' might be applied to beyond the UK to western Europe, North America (unevenly in the US states) and Australia. The question remains, however: what have we - for whom claims of sexual citizenship are made - won? Whilst the everyday lives of lesbians, gay men and bisexuals have changed, and western European, North American and Australian LGB communities might enjoy greater citizenship recognition than others around the globe,  the character and depth of that change is open to question. There are a number of areas that have caused concern: the dominance of commercialisation and commodification in sexual life: the decline of political activism or its association with conservatives in an agenda that reflects the politics of contestation with Islam; the politics of homonormativity and homo-nationalism and the new normativities; the persistence of negative cultural stereotypes and contestations in continuing in partnership, child care and adoption; concerns over the gendered nature of sexual change. This panel will seek to engage in a critical exploration of the 'balance sheet' on the sexual citizenship we have - and the sexual citizenship we might wish to have.

Panel 04: Migration of rights: Europe-Africa legal exchange in relation to sexual orientation and gender identity

Panel organisers:

Giuseppe Zago (Leiden University)

Daniel Damonzé (Leiden University)


The panel’s overarching theme concerns the influence of the European approach to LGBTI rights on African legislative and judicial bodies and queer individuals. It addresses the role of Europe as a regional power promoting legal inclusiveness of sexual minorities in international fora, questioning its capability, through political mechanisms and regional jurisprudence, to influence policies on sexual orientation and gender identity. Relations between Europe and African institutions and individuals show limits and opportunities of the European approach, as it results in different ambits, such as in the political dialogue on human rights at the international and regional level, or in the adjudication of transnational disputes.   Additionally, Europe – Africa legal exchange can be examined through a comparative analysis of LGBTI developments at African state level, and the universal and/or cultural relativist application of human rights law to sexual minorities by the African judicial and legislative branches of government. The analysis includes an assessment of African national, sub-regional and/or regional decisions (political, judicial or quasi-judicial) on the rights of LGBTIs and the similarities and variations with European human rights law.

Panel 05: Governments Going Gay? Relations Between LGBT Social Movements and Governmental Actors in Various European Contexts

Panel organiser:

Robert Davidson (University of Amsterdam)

Scholars working on the so-called ‘Social Movement Society’ propose that over the last several decades, at least in the global north, governments and social movements have generally become more intertwined, both in terms of relations between the two and regarding the use of each other’s tactics. Perhaps one of the best examples of those shifting government-civil society relations is visible through the interactions between governmental actors and organizations of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) movement. Throughout Europe on some local levels, in some national governments, and even on the supranational level of the European Union, gay and lesbian organizations have been able to develop cooperative relations with governmental actors. Those relations are not merely with actors of oppositional political parties but with mayors, cabinet members, and ministers. Since LGBT issues have become a terrain and domain of government policy, many LGBT organizations find themselves no longer mere political outsiders ‘banging on the door’ but are invited by governmental actors to participate in discussions on legal and policy changes. Governmental actors have also attempted to influence societal attitudes on LGBT issues and have even adopted some social movement tactics. For instance, from mayors to ministers and from Amsterdam to Belgrade governmental actors have participated in a number of gay and lesbian demonstrations in Europe. This panel invites presenters to theorize, compare, and inventory complementary, and at times cooperative, relations between governmental actors and organizations of the LGBT social movements in order to address the following questions: On which levels of government and in which contexts do cooperative relations occur between LGBT organizations and governmental actors? What developments have led some LGBT organizations and governmental actors to become partners? In what ways have cooperative relations impacted LGBT organizations, governments, and law and policy on LGBT issues?

Panel 06: Persistent Homophobia? The Political Marginalization of LGBT Issues and Organizations in Europe

Panel organiser:

Robert Davidson (University of Amsterdam)

In European self-imagination and presentation, the continent is tolerant, if not accepting, of LGBT identities and practices. Particularly since the 1997 European Union Treaty of Amsterdam that enabled action combatting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, among other categories, Europe has often been seen as a bastion of LGBT rights. There have been a number of legal protections of LGBT rights secured on various local, national, and supranational (EU) levels throughout Europe. Additionally, a number of local and national governments actively work with LGBT organizations to develop policies that encourage LGBT acceptance. Despite these developments, homophobia remains a large problem within Europe. For instance, a number of governmental actors in specific local and national contexts challenge further expansion of  laws promoting LGBT equality and/or refuse to apply and enforce anti-discrimination measures already in place. Not only are some governmental actors hostile to LGBT emancipation, they also actively work to marginalize LGBT organizations that attempt to secure the application and/or extension of LGBT anti-discrimination legislation and pro-active policies. Those homophobic developments are not new in Europe, as homophobia has always been a part of the continent, but they are in surprising contradiction to the ways in which Europe presents itself to the rest of the world. This panel invites scholars to inventory, embed, and theorize the various places, types, and strategies of governmental actors excluding and/or working against LGBT issues and activists to investigate the following questions: In which cases and contexts are LGBT activists denied voice in local or national politics or only able to form alliances with (small) opposition parties? In which political contexts do LGBT organizations and issues face opposition from members of ruling coalitions? To what extent is homophobia embedded in particular governmental institutions, and to what extent is political homophobia merely the product of unfavourable election results?

Panel 07: Trans* health practice, politics and science

Panel organisers:

Zowie Davy (University of Lincoln)

Amets Suess (Andalusian School of Public Health)


Trans* healthcare has historically been, and continues to be, a double edged sword for trans* people. From “on demand” interventions, through to psycho-medicalization and now to being associated with human rights healthcare frameworks, the establishment of health systems cognizant of, and facilitative of services for trans* people in Europe has become a notable area of study. On the one hand, defenders of a diagnostic classification of gender transition as a mental disorder argue that psycho-medical recognition of trans* people has allowed technological interventions to be advanced and distributed through healthcare systems for gender transitioning purposes. They also consider that this recognition has allowed researchers to focus on wider healthcare issues associated with identifying as a different gender to that assigned at birth, such as dying by suicide, sexual health, and child and adolescent healthcare. On the other hand, this psycho-medicalization is widely contested by a depathologization movement seeking to shift any healthcare provision away from psychiatric gatekeeping. They denounce psycho-medicalization and argue that it has created a group of pathologized people, often beset by a set of psychiatric criteria within which one must perform in order to realize certain transitioning technologies (if so sought). As such, there are many complex areas of healthcare provision that are affected by the practicalities, the politics and the science behind trans* healthcare. Important epistemological areas of work, focusing on the practical, political and scientific aspects of healthcare for trans* people are needed to develop debates about patient/person-centred healthcare provision for trans* people. This panel will offer a critical intervening into the debates, by exploring the practicalities of providing and administering healthcare, challenging and undoing psycho-medicalizations, and the epistemological underpinnings of the diagnoses that all have in different ways profound impact on trans* people’s lives and clinical provision of healthcare. Furthermore, the role governments play in organising and providing trans health care will be discussed, including access to state-funded services, as well as the development of trans health care models and guidelines.

Panel 08: Embedding lesbian and gay parenting in various legal contexts within Europe: How legal changes relate to experiences, acceptance and emancipation

Panel organiser:

Eleni Demetriou (University of Amsterdam)


Some European countries have enacted legislation that enables same-sex couples to marry and become parents through a variety of ways (e.g. international/domestic adoption, “known/unknown” donor insemination, surrogacy arrangements, medically assisted pregnancies). In countries without legal recognition of LGBTI marital and adoption rights, lesbians and gays may seek other means to become parents or in some cases already have children from previous (heterosexual) relationships or marriages. This panel aims to investigate the relationship between the social acceptance of sexual diversity and new family forms and the legal recognition of LGBTI rights, such as the right to parent or adopt in civil partnership or marriage relations. This panel invites papers on LG parenting in various social and legal contexts throughout Europe. We invite submissions from scholars working on the social acceptance of homosexuals and same-sex parenting and the experiences of LG families within different social, institutional and legal contexts.

Panel 09: From the Margins to the Mainstream?

Panel organiser:

Jan Willem Duyvendak (University of Amsterdam)


In this panel, we intend to discuss the recent history of LGBT emancipation, throughout which homosexuality has moved from the margins to the mainstream. The first question relates to the ways and extent to which societies have changed in relation to this LGBT emancipation process. Have societies become more diverse, perhaps even hyper-diverse, as some sociologists claim? In other words, have LGBTs had the power to “remake the mainstream”, to fundamentally change society? The second question concerns the ways and extent to which homosexuality has changed during the emancipation process. Is it “normalized” and mainstreamed or is there (still) space for queer identities? Has homosexuality become exclusively “native”, marginalizing minorities within the minority, as theorists of homonationalism claim? Thirdly, we seek to explain why and when the mainstreaming of homosexuality occurs and why and when homosexual emancipation results in the “remaking of the mainstream”. In doing so, we hope to explore how very particular articulations of LGBT identity and culture - mostly middle-class and “homonormative” emerged, while at the same time alternative and marginalized expressions of LGBTQ identity have increasingly disappeared from public view. Among other factors, social class has played a key role in these dynamics. While institutional sexism and homophobia have perhaps lessened for social upper classes, the social exclusion of others has increased as the result of growing inequality and precarity. These dynamics call for greater attention to the interconnections between social class, race and ethnicity, and gender and sexuality.

Panel 10: Local level, neighborhoods and LGBTQ politics in European cities: A comparative perspective

Panel organiser:

Konstantinos Eleftheriadis  (Scuola Normale Superiore)


This panel sets as an objective to provide LGBTQ studies with a local-level perspective by emphasizing the role of the city, and its different neighbourhoods, in the articulation and performance of sexual politics in contemporary Europe. The panel will challenge the nation-state as the primary and determining arena for the advancement of sexual rights. Although many fields, such as migration and integration studies, have underlined the importance of looking at the different levels in order to examine policy-making and policy-implementation, sexuality studies have not yet explored this approach, setting aside a rich theoretical and empirical field of how the local level might be the arena for different conflicts among social actors. Departing from a multi-level perspective, the papers will focus in particular on two levels: local/urban and neighbourhood level. They will explore the degree and impact local and neighbourhood levels have on LGBTQ politics in European cities through an interdisciplinary approach combining sociological, policy and legal studies. Two approaches are particularly advanced. First, at the urban/local level, the panel will try to comprehend the ways cities imagine themselves and how these visions influence LGBTQ politics and mobilizations. Some of the themes addressed are: municipality initiatives in favour or against LGBT rights, logistic support of Gay Prides, provision of local media and public space for LGBTQ actors to express themselves, etc. Moreover, cities’ visions and their impact on LGBTQ politics will be addressed: ‘creative cities’; ‘European capitals of culture’; ‘multicultural centres; ‘religious cities’, etc. Second, the panel will focus on the different neighbourhoods of the cities as arenas which enable or constrain LGBTQ mobilization. Topics of interest are: what sort of space LGBTQ actors find in segregated areas and/or working-class suburbs; touristic and wealthy neighbourhoods, etc. Finally, papers on the interaction between the urban and the neighbourhood levels are also invited.

Panel 11: Comparative survey approaches to LGBTI persons, couples and families

Panel organiser:

Mirjam Fischer (University of Amsterdam)

Stephanie Steinmetz (University of Amsterdam)


In recent years, much progress has been made in Europe and beyond with regard to legislation that is supportive and protective of LGBTI persons. While these achievements are laudable, it is important to keep evaluating to what extent they truly improve the lives of LGBTIs. There are still many sources of inequality, discrimination and stress that remain deeply embedded in the social fabric of European societies. One way to uncover such structural disadvantages is by means of comparison. Do persons in same-sex couples experience similar levels of well-being and health than persons in mixed-sex couples? How do wages of heterosexual men and women compare to wages of their heterosexual peers? Do children with LGBTI parents experience increased stress compared to their class mates with heterosexual parents? In addition to comparisons with heterosexual peers, the comparison within the group of LGBTIs can help understand how selective discrimination based on sexual orientation is. Do transsexuals experience more violence than homosexual men and lesbian women? Do bisexuals experience more stress than their homosexual peers? To what extent are trans- and intersex individuals disadvantaged on the housing market compared to LGBs? Survey research offers a great opportunity to answer such comparative questions. Traditionally, the study of LGBTI persons, couples and families is often approached from a qualitative methodological angle. Yet, quantitative scholars have continuously made efforts to overcome the methodological challenges associated with studying this population using surveys. This is an important development, which should be encouraged and continued. Therefore, this session welcomes survey-based contributions aiming to increase our understanding of the lives of LGBTIs, same-sex couples, LGBTI-headed families, and their children from a comparative perspective.

Panel 12: Beyond the alphabet soup?

Panel organiser:

Gert Hekma (University of Amsterdam)


The concept of what was once termed sexual invert, homosexual, gay and now queer has transformed in terminology and content over time. Sexual invert combined the sexually inverted with the gender inverted and was one variation in a field of perversions in early sexology (fetishism, sadomasochism, pedophilia, copromania, exhibitionism, etc.) as in the work of Krafft-Ebing (1886). ‘Homosexual’ promised to bring together gay men and lesbian women under one roof while keeping to the gender inversion topos into the early 20th century (Hirschfeld 1914). Since the 1990s ‘queer’ refers to the sexually transgressive. In a short period around 1970, ‘gay’, with various national inflections (faggot, schwul, flikker, janet, pédé and so on) meant a radical and not so normal version of homosexual. Its early versions included genderfuck, travesty, SM, boy love, fetishism, sissiness, public sex, promiscuity and so on, and the focus was not so much on identities but rather on an array of sexual/gendered practices, most of which have today been forgotten even in discussions of ‘queer’. In this panel we want to analyse and discuss why some of these older – or perhaps newer - interests haven’t made it into the common alphabet soup of LGBTTIQQAA&, and why homo’s have rather embraced concepts of identity than practice. The aim of the panel is to discuss the disappearance of ‘gay’ issues and themes of sexual practice since the 1970s, while the main issue of today has become homonormalization in a sense of straight acting gays and lesbians (identity, equality, family, kids, army, religion). Even bisexual and trans issues get little attention in the alphabet soup, and the classical perversions, public sex, promiscuity, polyamory, straight people into gay sex, she-males and sex-work receive no attention in the alphabet soup. Papers can discuss sexual practices not included in the alphabet soup or surviving at its margins; which letters are (not) included and why; questions of terminology; analyses of continuing exclusions in the field of LGBTIQ; queries of how diversity may divide or what about the unity in the alphabet soup? What is queer in the queers? What are ‘we’ proud of?

Panel 13: LGBTI Refugees, Immigration Authorities and the Gay Community

Panel organisers:

Peter Geschiere (University of Amsterdam)

Gert Hekma (University of Amsterdam)

In the context of this conference on LGBTI emancipation in Europe, we propose a two-session panel on the topic of LGBTI asylum. In addition to the difficulties that all refugees face during the evaluation of their asylum application, the chances of LGBTI refugees depend upon the proof of their sexuality. Recently the Dutch immigration authorities (IND) made some efforts to develop special methods for interviewing LGBTI refugees. Our first session will bring together refugees, IND staff and COC representatives (Dutch LGBT organization) to discuss the developments in the Netherlands with special emphasis on the new interviewing methods. Our second session aims to bring together academics to discuss, from a comparative perspective, research on issues of LGBTI asylum. For this session, we invite colleagues who can present research on related issues – on the Netherlands or on developments elsewhere -  to submit a paper proposal.

Panel 14: More labels or no labels? An interdisciplinary panel on “creating space” for gender ambivalence and diversity

Panel organisers:

Sylvia Holla (Atria)

Renée Römkens (Atria)


Gender scholars have long argued that the binary concepts male-female fail to capture the rich variation of gender and sexual subjectivities that exists, and that both biological and gender identities occur across a continuum of possibilities (cf. Van Heesch, 2015). Increasing awareness of these variations amongst medical practitioners and politicians has recently led to a request for legislative amendment in the Netherlands: the demand to reconsider the binary gender system of juridical sex-registration, with only two boxes to tick: male or female. This corresponds with countries like Nepal, India, New Zealand, Germany and Australia, where arrangements are or have been made that go beyond the traditional dichotomy of male/female. However, manners of providing space for gender variation vary cross-nationally. In the Netherlands and Germany the dichotomy M/F is maintained, but it is made possible to refrain from either label for a considerable period of time. In India and Nepal, a “third gender” is officially recognized by the government: a box other than male or female is provided (Van den Brink and Tigchelaar, 2014: 46-50). A question that arises, is whether and which changes in legislation on sex-registration are effective in rendering gender ambivalence and/or diversity culturally accepted. Will more labels, or rather, no labels, lead to social inclusion and a broadening of cultural norms? This panel proposes an interdisciplinary approach to ambivalent and diverse gender identities – a topic situated at the intersections of law, health and gender studies, and the social sciences. We invite participants from these various fields to think about different strategies of subject-positioning that may benefit people with ambivalent gender identities. What are the possible ways, apart from juridical ones, to render gender ambivalence and diversity more socially and culturally accepted? We also encourage scholars to discuss specific cases, social spaces or institutions where gender ambivalence is (increasingly) culturally accepted or even artistically celebrated (one can, for example, think of domains of pop music, entertainment or the higher segments of fashion, see Davis, 1994; Taylor, 2012).

Panel 15: Non-binary gender possibilities, practices and identities at the interstice of “Asia” and “Europe”

Panel organiser:

Adnan Hossain (University of Amsterdam)


The last decade has witnessed a resurgence of interest in third sex/gender in the public domain in both Asia and Europe. On the one hand, several Asian countries including India, Nepal, Pakistan and Bangladesh have all legally recognized the male bodied feminine identified hijra as a third gender in recent years. On the other hand, a  growing movement of intersex rights in the Global North has led to a heightened awareness of intersex issues and the incorporation of “I” into the now globalized acronym of LGBTI. Germany, for example, became the first European country in 2013 to recognize intersex as a third gender by allowing people born with genital ambiguity to be marked as “x” on the birth certificates. Despite difference in context, both the intersex in the global north and the hijra are often conscripted as examples in scholarship and in activist circles to challenge the gender and sexual dimorphism. What is the politics of sameness and difference at play in relation to the production of the concept and practice of non-binary and third gender in Asia and Europe? How are third gender and other non-binary concepts and practices in Asian context transforming as a result of Asian LGBTI people’s encounter with their European counterparts and vice versa? To what extent does the legal recognition of a third gender work to ensure gender freedom and emancipation? Does the insistence on bodily difference in the intersex movement in the global north work to paradoxically reinforce the gender binary? What is the politics of desire in the construction of non-binary gender categories and their legal recognition? This panel seeks to bring into view the various ways both colonial and postcolonial encounters of Europe with Asia (for example via social scientific research or NGO work) produce as well as foreclose possibilities for non-binary gender expressions, practices and identities?

Panel 16: (Re)Formations of transgender activism and politics

Panel organiser:

Anja Koletnik (TransAkcija)

This panel aims to look at a part of the LGBT movement that has often been marginalized – transgender persons and topics. We invite papers exploring the emancipation of transgender persons and their political struggles from all across Europe. This panel is particularly concerned with issues of trans activism, policy, and representation. In what ways have collaborations taken place and alliances been formed with LGB and/or feminist activists and organizations? In what ways has transphobia hindered collaborations with LGB activists and organizations? In which contexts have trans activists and organizations been successful in influencing government policy on trans issues? In which contexts and on what issues have trans activist organizations been less successful? In what ways have trans persons and activists been represented in the media, and in what ways have those representations influenced trans organizing and policymaking?

Panel 17: European perspectives on LGBTI workforce diversity

Panel organisers:

Thomas Köllen (Vienna University of Economics and Business (WU), Institute for Gender and Diversity in Organizations)

Jukka Lehtonen (University of Helsinki)


This panel aims at providing deeper insights into the differing experiences of the whole spectrum of LGBTI employees in the workplace in different European national and occupational contexts. Although workforce diversity has attracted much scientific attention over the last decade, there is still a shortage of literature on issues related to homosexual, bisexual, transgender and intersex employees, compared with other facets of workforce diversity. Emphasis is placed on the equal consideration of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex issues. In management practice many organizations use the term LGBTI to designate the target group of organizational practices (e.g. diversity management), although, in reality, these usually only aim at lesbian and gay employees. Thus, although verbally integrated into the initialism LGBTI, bi, trans* and intersex issues are more or less invisible in management practices. As transgenderism and intersexuality are not related to a certain sexual orientation, subsuming this phenomena into one umbrella term, together with different sexual orientations, marginalizes the unique stressors transgender and intersex employees have to face. In this context, this panel encourages researchers to submit paper proposals that broaden the understanding of issues related to employees with minority status in terms of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity and/or sex. This includes papers which apply intersectional perspectives taking into account other dimensions of workforce diversity as well, such as for example age, religion, social class, nationality, disability-status, or race/ethnicity. Furthermore, contributions are welcome that offer contextualized insights for evaluating and conceptualizing organizational initiatives aiming at a higher level of inclusion for LGBTI employees. Theoretical or conceptual contributions on these issues are appreciated as well. In order to broaden the predominantly Anglo-American perspective on LGBTI workforce diversity, contributions from European countries that are yet underrepresented within the academic discourse are strongly encouraged, as well as comparative, cross-cultural or cross-country analysis.

Panel 18: Out! LGBTQI Visibility in Media and Celebrity Culture

Panel organisers:

Jaap Kooijman (University of Amsterdam)

Linda Duits (Utrecht University)


Many academic studies on LGBTQI representation in mainstream media and celebrity culture focus on US American film, television, and celebrities. Moreover, such studies often present histories from invisibility to visibility, consisting of key “first moments” such as the coming out of Ellen Degeneres (both the “real” Ellen and the fictional sitcom character), in which each first moment is staged as a media event and perceived as progress. This focus on US American culture is understandable. Not only are US American produced films and television programs distributed globally, the US American entertainment industry includes organizations such as GLAAD that actively lobby “to ensure accurate and diverse representations of LGBT people on the big and small screens” ( However, this raises questions such as: What can be considered “accurate” and “diverse”?; Does the movement towards visibility inevitably mean progress?; Are there other forms of visibility that can challenge the coming out as dominant narrative in media? This panel wants to break with the discussion’s US American dominance by inviting papers on LGBTQI representation in mainstream media in Europe. Based on either case studies of specific films, television programs, and celebrities, or on specific national and regional contexts of LGBTQI visibility, all papers are expected to address the (impossibility of) “accurate” representation and the ideal of progress.

Panel 19: LGBTIQ politics, homo/heteronationalism and political economy

Panel organisers:

Paul Mepschen (Leiden University)

Peter Drucker (International Institute for Research and Education)


LGBTIQ people in much of Europe may be freer today than they once were. But the freedom they enjoy is increasingly dependent on and constrained by a commercial scene and a marketplace that are much more hospitable to people with money than those without. Indeed, various scholars have in recent years argued that LGBTIQ movements in Europe, including their articulations in Pride events across the continent, have become increasingly commercialized and have therefore become more exclusionary, producing a rift between particular, middle-class articulations of gay identity and identities and practices rooted in more marginalized - and often less normalized - social locations. In a linked dynamic, the prevailing gay identities are increasingly enmeshed in polarizations between ‘autochtonous’ and immigrant, Western and Eastern European. We organize this panel not only because we think class, social location, and inequality matter to LGBTI politics, but because political economy remains undertheorized in LGBT and queer studies. We invite papers on the relationship between political economy, national and ethnic identity, and LGBTIQ rights in Europe, both from an empirical and theoretical perspective.

Panel 20: Bisexualities and Equalities in a European context

Panel organiser:

Surya Monro (University of Huddersfield)


This panel addresses the ways in which bisexual people have been marginalised, and the prejudices that bisexual people face from both heterosexuals and lesbians and gay men. At the same time, there are examples of positive collaboration between lesbians, gay men, and bisexuals supporting human rights initiatives, which need attention. The panel also explores bisexual activist interventions at local, regional, national and supranational levels, and the citizenship and rights claims that bisexual people are making. It will look at the ways in which bisexuality is dealt with via legislation, and policy makers and practitioners in a range of contexts. Existing research shows that bisexual people face some specific challenges. These include experiences of belonging neither in ‘gay’ space nor ‘heterosexual’ space; increased mental health difficulties which may be linked to minority stress; higher than average levels of domestic violence by male partners towards bisexual women; and high levels of substance abuse. Bisexual people in same-sex relationships are subject to similar risks (of experiencing homophobia) as lesbians and gay men. At the same time, bisexuals in opposite-sex relationships may access the privileges associated with heterosexuals. There are other issues that require exploration, including the varied relationship forms that bisexual people have (including celibate, asexual, monogamously partnered, single and sexually active, and polyamorously partnered). These varied relationship forms have wider implications for policy makers and also for key debates, such as those around queer activism versus homonormative citizenship. The panel invites papers addressing any of the above areas. It also welcomes papers looking at key issues, such as the ways in which homophobia can be directed at lesbians, gay men, transgender people, intersex people, bisexuals and indeed heterosexual cisgender people. Papers addressing the erasure of bisexuals and bisexuality amongst different stakeholders (such as policy makers, municipal actors, and/or the lesbian and gay communities) will be welcomed. We are also interested in reports of directly biphobic practice, such as the exclusion of bisexuals from queer space, and violence and abuse towards bisexual people by heterosexuals and/or lesbians and gay men. Lastly, we welcome papers about effective and/or interesting policy interventions that are inclusive of bisexual people, and/or grassroots activism in this area.

Panel 21: Polyamory: Law and Human Rights

Panel organisers:

Natalie Nikolina (Leiden University)

Jingshu Zhu (Leiden University)

Claerwen O'Hara (Monash University)


In discussion of sexual diversity, especially legal recognition of sexual diversity, emphasis has often been placed on sexual orientation. However, the notion of sexual diversity is broader and interacts with interpersonal relationships which go beyond sexuality. One of the neglected forms of sexual diversity is non-monogamy. In particular, there has been a rise of polyamory, as ‘the practice, state or ability of having more than one sexual [or, for some, romantic] loving relationship at the same time, with the full knowledge and consent of all partners involved’ (Anapol, 1997). Polyamory has been a subject of increasing academic interest over the past few years. Yet still, there is a need to integrate polyamory issues into larger queer academic and political events. Polyamorous people tend to experience similar forms of legal and social marginalization as LGBTI individuals, such as criminalization of their relationships, discrimination and stigmatization of their relationship choices and practices, and non-recognition of their family status. However, while LGBTI people have received increasing legal protection and recognition in Europe in the last several decades, polyamory continues to be neglected within the social, legal, and political fields, as well as alienated both outside and within the LGBTI community.

Panel 22: How homophiles became gay and proud

Panel organisers:

Theo van der Meer (independent scholar)

Paul Mepschen (Leiden University)


Many ‘homophile’ organizations emerging after World War 2 started out with the intention to offer a place under the sun to male and female homophiles, and to turn them into respectable citizens while fighting legal injustice. Within less than 20 years, however, these movements found themselves caught up in sexual revolution and 2nd wave feminism. For new generations of radical gays and lesbians, respectability equaled assimilation and repression. The partial desexualization that was implied in the coinage of ‘homophile’ gave way to sexual licentiousness for gay men, which was on the other hand considered to be the pinnacle of patriarchy in lesbian-feminist analyses. In those decades gradual decriminalization and depathologization coincided with profound and also conflicting reconceptualizations of homosexuality inside and outside movements. Psycho-analytical concepts replaced pre-war third or intermediate sex notions. Homosexuality gained respectability by separating itself from pedophilia, which became a category in its own right with its own etiology. New sexual identities emerged and coming-out strategies came to bridge the gap between private and public. Such identities were turned into universalized selfs that became the basis of the sole model for emancipation. Copying strategies of Afro-Americans in the USA and the Black is Beautiful movement, homophiles around 1970 turned gay and proud in the pursuit of ‘gay liberation’ (to be surpassed by radical fairies, lesbian nation and others just five years later). This panel covers the period from the end of WW II up to the onset of the Aids epidemic (roughly 1980). Interested scholars are invited to submit a paper proposal which will address one or some of the issues mentioned in timely attempts to try to make sense of history in an era in which major challenges loom large. 

Panel 23: Emancipated yet suffering in silence? – tackling the stubbornly high prevalence of mental health problems among LGBTI people

Panel organiser:

Rene Gerrets (University of Amsterdam)


A growing number of investigations is showing a paradoxical development: in various countries known for their remarkable progress in societal acceptance of sexual diversity and promotion of equal rights, mental health among LGBTI people remains surprisingly poor.  For instance in the Netherlands, often seen as leading in LGBTI emancipation, studies conducted during the past 20 years paint a disconcerting picture: Suicides, mood disorders and anxiety remain far more common among LGBTI people than among heterosexual peers. Moreover, the disproportionally high prevalence of mental health problems among LGBTI people compared with heterosexuals has barely changed during the past two decades.  Illustrating the problem at hand, a 2010 study reported that attempted suicide rates among Dutch gay and lesbian youth are up to five times higher than among straight peers. How can it be that mental health problems persist at such high rates in settings known for advancing LGBTI emancipation? Understanding this issue is particularly salient when considering that the prevalence of mental health problems among LGBTI in the Netherlands and other ‘progressive’ countries differs little from rates in countries where emancipation has lagged behind. How can this paradox be explained? What can be done to tackle the – often invisible – suffering?  To address these vexing questions, this panel invites papers that address the following themes: How does this issue manifest in various countries and settings?  What are possible underlying reasons? How do narratives of successful LGBTI emancipation aid, hinder or sideline efforts to address and improve mental health issues? How can momentum be generated to work toward a next step in emancipation, one wherein mental health equality for LGBTI is a leading goal?

Panel 24: Same-sex families and the migration experience

Panel organiser:

Sébastien Chauvin (University of Amsterdam)


This panel welcomes presentations on all aspects of LGBT family life that relate to international migration. Although queer asylum and individual LGBT migration have given rise to a broad scholarship in the past twenty years, only recently have family migration and queer migration researchers shown more interest in migrant queer families and the challenges met by bi-national and mixed-status queer couples, pointing a number of directions for critical investigation. What are the implications of the rising but unequal recognition of same-sex ties for the global mobility of LGBT couples? How do asylum officers handle the refugee claims of same-sex families in the context of restrictive migration laws in countries of the global North? What does EU Free Movement mean for the mobility rights of non-heterosexual families across the Union, whether they include second-country or third-country nationals? What are the consequences of civic inequality between the two partners in bi-national and mixed-status same-sex relationships? Is the perception of these couples by their surroundings and the authorities different than for heterosexual couples? How do class, ethno-racial and cultural differences play out in the internal dynamics of couples, their administrative treatment and their ways of dealing with racism? Do lesbian and gay male couples get distinct experiences of their migration or mixed-status relationships based on gender? How do varying understandings of kinship ties around the world combine with contentious postcolonial power relations to allow or prevent the migration of the sons and daughters of same-sex families along with their parents? And what are the implications of these processes for the global politics of queer adoption? These are some of the questions that can be addressed by paper submissions to the panel. Presenters are welcome to suggest other original questions and approaches to the issue of same-sex family migration broadly conceived.

Published by  ARCGS

14 July 2016