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Session Overview
Panel 412: Between Pushback and Progress: LGBTQ and Women's Rights in Europe
Tuesday, 03/Sep/2019:
10:50am - 12:20pm

Session Chair: Annick Masselot, JCMS
Location: Anfiteatro 9

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Between Pushback and Progress: LGBTQ and Women's Rights in Europe

Chair(s): Annick Masselot (University of Canterbury, New Zealand)

Internally, the EU is faced with the calling into question of democratic and human rights norms, increasing authoritarianism in some member states and Brexit. These challenges question the EU's credibility as a promoter of women's and LGBTI rights and further raise questions about their consequences for discrimination based on gender and sexual orientation. Most likely, the EU's influence on these issues in Its member states is decreasing. Moreover, even the EU's policies might be changing when these norms are questioned in the European public sphere or by supranational actors. This panel asks how these internal crises affect issues of gender and sexual orientation in terms of representation, legislation and gender regimes. The different contributions of this panel analyse gender and LGBTI issues in the context of Brexit and in the context of the increasing importance of anti-gender and LGBTI rights vocies on the suprantional level of the EU.


Presentations of the Symposium


Peasant and Women: Intersectionality in Rural Networks in Latin America

Gabriela Pinheiro Machado Brochner
Universidad Complutense de Madrid

The organization of rural women makes them a new political subject that pressures on States and international institutions to develop and implement specific policies not only for rural areas and family agriculture, but for rural women. In this sense, intersectionality is a fundamental tool to understand the different identities that these women embody, and the combination that is very present in their discourses: class and gender, as transversal elements in addition to rurality. The transnational practices of rural women's organizations function as a means of articulating and strengthening demands, broadening the spaces for political participation, where the Peasant Women's Movement (MMC) of Brazil emerges as a central political subject in the last two decades, as State and regional reference in raising the flag of food sovereignty and agroecological production as nuclear elements of a process of transformation that goes from the local to the global. Starting from an intersectional and multiscalar analysis, this work presents part of a finalized doctoral research, and its objective is to show how intersectionality is articulated as the axis of political organization and territorial identification, contributing to the understanding of the configuration and networking of peasant women in Latin America. Based on the case study of the MMC in Brazil, this proposal analyzes the centrality of intersectionality in the political articulation produced in the process of building transnational networks of rural women in Latin America at different spatial scales, which imply the establishment of alliances on a regional scale and the creation of new spaces of demand based on the production of their political demands as women and as peasants.


National Identity, Securitization and LGBTQ Rights in Turkey

Hanna L. Muehlenhoff
University of Amsteram

LGBTQ rights organizations in Turkey have lived through radically changing contexts between 2000 and 2020. Whereas LGBTQ people in Turkey were (made) invisible until the early 2000s, from 2005 onwards they gained more visibility, due to Turkey’s political pluralization and the financial and ideological support of the European Union. However, since the crackdown of the Gezi Park protests and the state of emergency following the failed coup attempt in 2016, LGBTQ rights groups and organizations have faced increasing opposition and repression, as visible in the continuous ban of the Istanbul Pride March, hate crimes and hate speech against the LGBTQ community. In this paper, I will argue that today – similar to women’s and Kurdish rights in Turkey – LGBTQ rights are increasingly securitized and constituted as a threat to Turkish national identity and what it means to be Turkish. As my discourse analysis of the official government discourse in Turkey will show, this national identity is also constructed against a European Other with which LGBTQ rights are strongly associated, at least partly a result of the EU’s own identity discourse and funding efforts in Turkey. In this sense, the visibility that LGBTQ rights groups gained during Turkey’s democratic opening made them more vulnerable and a target of the evolving discourses of securitization and national identity in Turkey.


The (dis)Advantages of the EU's Use of International Organizations to Promote LGBTI Rights

Markus Thiel
Florida International University

There are a number of external venues in which the EU aims to influence other states when advocating LGBTI rights. However, it is difficult to assess the EU’s access and strategic use of other intergovernmental organizations such as the UN or the Bretton Woods Institutions, as their organizational identities differ from each other. In addition, this paper argues that the EU’s normative discourse surrounding LGBTI individuals is not ideal to garner support from states or regions that have different conceptions on such individual & group rights, and feel that European states impose, rather than promote said rights. Moreover, other organizational issues emanate from the fragmentation of EU legislative, representative, and executive functions, as e.g. in the UN, the EU member states pursue their own policies as well, but the EU’s Parliament and its Intergroup on LGBTI rights are the main connecting point in this regard. The UN venue is well placed to diffuse LGBTI-friendly policies more broadly, yet the ambiguity with which the majority of UN member states support LGBTI rights declarations and policy strategies makes it a volatile forum. More recent UN attempts to promote LGBTI rights evidence this difficult endeavor, as the mixed record of the recently created UN LGBT envoy office shows. And the Bretton Woods institutions IMF, World Bank and WTO, based on their organizational goals, have limited impact on the EU’s sexual rights policy. Thus, it seems unlikely that a stronger cooperation between the EU and those entities will provide for a global reinforcement of European LGBTI rights norms.

Free movement under Challenge: The Indexation of Family Benefits

Michael Blauberger2, Anita Heindlmaier1

1University of Salzburg; 2University of Salzburg

This paper traces the political debate(s) about the indexation of family benefits in the European Union (EU), i.e. the adjustment of national welfare benefits for EU migrants to the cost of living in the country of residence of their children. We ask why such a technical-legal issue got heavily politicized in recent years. Two obvious explanations prove to be insufficient: the financial implications of the indexation of family benefits for national welfare budgets are relatively small and the debate has not been simply driven by welfare chauvinists of the political right. The indexation of family benefits, we argue instead, receives broad political attention because it is paradigmatic for fundamental controversies on the free movement and equal treatment of workers in the EU. While the free movement of workers is a founding principle of European integration, it has become politically much more salient due to Eastern enlargement with unprecedented levels of intra-EU mobility and wage competition. At the same time, the legal framework of worker mobility and equal treatment in the EU is largely removed from political adjustments as it is “constitutionalized” in the Treaties and progressively interpreted by the Court of Justice (CJEU). At least symbolically, the indexation of family benefits promises to address these economic and legal challenges: it mainly affects EU migrants with low income, for whom generous family benefits constitute a wage subsidy, and it is one of few EU legal options to qualify equal treatment without requiring Treaty amendment. We illustrate our argument with empirical evidence from the debates on indexation preceding the Brexit referendum, the revision of the EU social coordination regulation and the Austrian reform of family benefits.

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