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date: 09 May 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter commences by examining the status LGBT rights have achieved within the United Nations (UN) human rights system and reviews some key aspects of their trajectory. It considers how best to interpret the varying roles LGBT rights can play in the international system, given their new status, with a critical reading of Hillary Clinton’s famous and much lauded “gay rights are human rights” speech to the UN General Assembly in 2011. It then moves on to what LGBT rights as human rights might mean in those parts of the world where this status receives little if any formal institutional recognition, using the case of the Southeast Asian region, where a new human rights regime has been established but where non-normative sexuality and gender have been willfully excluded from its remit. The chapter considers what the politics of human rights mean for sexuality and gender-diverse people in this region with reference to two senses in which human rights claims are political: (1) activists and advocates push against the status quo to have sexuality and gender issues included in the human rights discussion and (2) resistance to this inclusion is often played out by a politicization of sexuality and gender that obscures other pressing issues. This chapter demonstrates both the profound and important advances that have been made for LGBT individuals and communities and the ways in which these successes generate political dynamics of their own, which must be carefully navigated in order to sustain the emancipatory potential of the movement.

Keywords: human rights, LGBT, United Nations, sexuality, gender, Yogyakarta Principles, homonormativity, ASEAN, Southeast Asia

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