9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN23 Sexuality

2009-09-05 15:30:00 2009-09-05 17:00:00 Saturday, 5 September 15:30 - 17:00 Open Session Building I, 1E10

The construction of national identity, gender and sexuality in Cyprus, and the role of European human rights for LGBTQ people

National identity vis-à-vis Europeanization has received a lot of attention in social sciences? literature. Both in the literature and in political activism the demand for LGBTQ recognition has been primarily premised on EU human rights law, directives, and litigation. Nevertheless, national identity and European LGBTQ rights have not been conjointly addressed sufficiently. Literature about the effects of national identity on the construction of gender and sexuality and on the substantive realization of LGBTQ equality within societies is also limited. This paper attempts to bring together these issues. It uses Cyprus as case-study, since its Europeanization has not resulted in increased tolerance towards "dissident" genders and sexualities. It answers the questions: a) How are gender and sexuality constructed in Cyprus and what is their relation to national identity and other predominant discourses? b) How are "human rights" and "Europe" conceptualized and how do LGBTQ rights operate in the Cypriot context? c) What strategies are needed in order for alternative identities to flourish and for European LGBTQ legal developments to be substantially applied? Once we have a new understanding of these dynamics and of the intersectional subjectivization issues they raise, we could apply it on a wider scale beyond the Cypriot context and beyond specific types of exclusion to all types of "othering". I employ both a theoretical and an empirical research approach. Firstly, I assess the existing literature and I propose gender and sexuality as central aspects of agency exercise over the negotiation of identity. Secondly, I juxtapose the cultivation of nationalism in Cyprus and its normalizing effects on gender and sexuality, to the situation in other European countries. Thirdly, I expose the Cypriot institutional actors responsible for regulating gender and sexuality subjectivities and I propose proliferating inter-communal same-sex partnerships as the epitome of identity-barrier eradication. Fourthly, I examine the effectiveness of a strategically identity-based LGBTQ movement in milieus where the framework of queer theory and practice seems to be limited. I conclude by proposing possible strategies for affecting societal and political change and for expanding of the boundaries of the "proper".