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A new book analyzing the legal changes in the Commonwealth's 54 member states.
Human Rights, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in The Commonwealth: Struggles for Decriminalisation and Change

in WORLD, 24/06/2013

Human rights in relation to sexual orientation and gender identity are at last reaching the heart of global debates. Yet 78 states worldwide continue to criminalise same-sex sexual behaviour, and due to the legal legacies of the British Empire, 42 of these – more than half – are in the Commonwealth of Nations. In recent years many states have seen the emergence of new sexual nationalisms, leading to increased enforcement of colonial sodomy laws against men, new criminalisations of sex between women and discrimination against transgender people.

Human rights in relation to sexual orientation and gender identity are at last reaching the heart of global debates. Yet 78 states worldwide continue to criminalise same-sex sexual behaviour, and due to the legal legacies of the British Empire, 42 of these – more than half – are in the Commonwealth of Nations. In recent years many states have seen the emergence of new sexual nationalisms, leading to increased enforcement of colonial sodomy laws against men, new criminalisations of sex between women and discrimination against transgender people.

 

Human Rights, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in The Commonwealth: Struggles for Decriminalisation and Change challenges these developments as the first book to focus on experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) and all non-heterosexual people in the Commonwealth. The volume offers the most internationally extensive analysis to date of the global struggle for decriminalisation of same-sex sexual behaviour and relationships.

 

The book includes:

The first quantitative analysis of legal change related to sexual orientation and gender identity across all the Commonwealth’s 54 Member States, and an overview of existing transnational politics and activism.

13 peer-reviewed chapters by academics and activists presenting analyses of struggles for decriminalisation and change in 16 national contexts covering all regions of the Commonwealth: United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, South Africa, Botswana, Malawi, Uganda, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, and the Bahamas.

A unique comparative analysis across the Commonwealth, based on the 16 national analyses, focusing on learning lessons from states in the global South where decriminalisation of same-sex sexual behaviour has been achieved, including the Bahamas, South Africa and India.

Some recent transnational activism has sought to use the Commonwealth as a medium to achieve decriminalisation. This volume distinctively opens up questions of how such developments should be interpreted in the contexts of colonialism and post-colonialism, and critical perspectives on cultural racism, Southern theory and homonationalism. It thus offers analytical frameworks for developing struggles and strategies for decriminalisation and human rights in the context of a multi-dimensional understanding of inequalities and power.

 

About the editors:

Dr Corinne Lennox is Lecturer in Human Rights at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies, School of Advanced Study, University of London, United Kingdom.

Dr Matthew Waites is Senior Lecturer in Sociology in the School of Social and Political Sciences at University of Glasgow, United Kingdom.

This book is also available in ebook format.
Contents

 

Abbreviations

Contributors

1 Human rights, sexual orientation and gender identity in the Commonwealth: from history and law to developing activism and transnational dialogues

Corinne Lennox and Matthew Waites

2 The sodomy offence: England’s least lovely criminal law export?

The Hon. Michael Kirby AC CMG

3 This alien legacy: the origins of ‘sodomy’ laws in British colonialism

Human Rights Watch

4 LGBT rights in Commonwealth forums: politics, pitfalls and progress?

Frederick Cowell

5 United Kingdom: confronting criminal histories and theorising decriminalisation as citizenship and governmentality

Matthew Waites

6 Wolfenden in Canada: within and beyond official discourse in law reform struggles

Gary Kinsman

7 Australia: nine jurisdictions, one long struggle

Graham Willett

8 A few respectable steps behind the world? Gay and lesbian rights in contemporary Singapore

Simon Obendorf

9 The Malaysian dilemma: negotiating sexual diversity in a Muslim-majority Commonwealth state

Shanon Shah

10 Decriminalisation of consensual same-sex sexual acts in the South Asian Commonwealth: struggles in contexts

Sumit Baudh

11 Decriminalising homosexuality in Africa: lessons from the South African experience

Gustavo Gomes da Costa Santos

12 The development of sexual rights and the LGBT movement in Botswana

Monica Tabengwa with Nancy Nicol

13 The LGBT situation in Malawi: an activist perspective

Undule Mwakasungula

14 The incremental approach: Uganda’s struggle for the decriminalisation of homosexuality

Adrian Jjuuko

15 Religious institutions and actors and religious attitudes to homosexual rights: South Africa and Uganda

Kevin Ward

16 ‘Buggery’ and the Commonwealth Caribbean: a comparative examination of the Bahamas, Jamaica, and Trinidad and Tobago

Joseph Gaskins Jr.

17 Beyond cross-cultural sensitivities: international human rights advocacy and sexuality in Jamaica

Conway Blake and Philip Dayle

18 The use of equality and anti-discrimination law in advancing LGBT rights

Dimitrina Petrova

19 Conclusion

Comparative analysis of decriminalisation and change across the Commonwealth: understanding contexts and discerning strategies

Corinne Lennox and Matthew Waites

Index

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