9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN23 Sexuality

2009-09-03 09:00:00 2009-09-03 10:30:00 Thursday, 3 September 09:00 - 10:30 Sexual Citizenship Building I, 1E8

In the Name of Equality: Sexuality and Social Change

In recent years there has been an explosion of interest in the field of equalities and diversity, fuelled by a raft of legislative changes in the UK and other parts of Europe, as well as broader demographic trends concerning migration and citizenship. Sexualities equalities work, which has for many years been marginalised, has now gained social and political currency and visibility, with greater inclusion of previously marginalised sexual and gender communities. This integration of (some) lesbians and gay men into social and political life as 'normal citizens' represents a significant shift with important implications for understandings of sexual citizenship and the meanings and importance attached to sexual identities This paper will develop and extend our previous theoretical work on sexuality and citizenship by considering these issues. It considers the broader ways in which social constructions of sexuality and gender are changing, and also whether the increasing citizenship rights of sexual and gender minorities alter models of heterosexual and gendered citizenship. Empirically, the paper draws on emerging findings of an Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) funded study on LGBT Equality Initiatives in local government, which maps citizenship discourses onto examples of everyday practices and attitudes of LGBT equalities work in local government organisations in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Specifically, the study looks at the ways in which policies concerning sexual and transgender equalities are resisted by organisations, with institutional processes being mobilised in ways which support or block implementation, sometimes in a fragmented fashion. Also, the research explores the expression of sexuality equalities and transgender equalities initiatives in relation to other equalities strands, in particular the relationship between faith and sexuality equalities.