Human Rights Contestations: Sexual Orientation and Gender IdentityInternational Journal of Human Rights (2016)
This article asks if and why sexual orientation and gender identity-related rights should connect to a human rights framework. To answer that question it begins by addressing how we understand what makes human rights resonate or not resonate and if addressing a contentious issue such as sexual orientation or gender identity from within a human rights frame advances or detracts from such resonance. The argument developed in response is anti-foundational: i.e., that human rights’ resonance has not come from some universally valid extra-political foundational source but, rather, comes from how human rights have been transformed (at times) into tools that become relevant to everyday struggles of marginalised peoples. Considered in that context, including recognition of sexual orientation and gender identity-related rights may be extraordinarily difficult, but also presents an opportunity to re-conceptualise human rights in a way that reflects the sort of bottom-up demands that keep human rights relevant. Responding to critical challenges arguing that sexual orientation and gender identity-related rights are either impractical or theoretically problematic actually reinforces the saliency of this argument. It is true that human rights can be a matter of problematic top-down impositions. But when human rights are constituted by claims made by marginalised peoples, they can also powerfully advance cultural, economic, political and social empowerment. In short, including recognition of sexual orientation and gender identity-related rights is in line with how human rights have, at their best, evolved and been reimagined. Most importantly, such re-imaginings are part of what can allow human rights to be more fully informed by the pluralistic forces that animate human identity and that sometimes make human rights relevant to peoples and societies around the globe.
Publication DateSpring 2016
Citation InformationAnthony Chase. "Human Rights Contestations: Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity" International Journal of Human Rights (2016)
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/anthony_chase/44/