How are LGBT demands for inclusion shaping geopolitics and international relations? The queer discussion has also become geopolitical and economic. Some analysts are even wondering whether LGBT inclusion is related to so-called "color" revolutions, or not.
According to Human Rights Watch LGBTQ+ activist Ryan Thoreson: “As states mobilize popular sentiment, diplomatic pressure, and foreign aid over the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) persons, it is no longer tenable to argue that LGBTQ issues are inconsequential in global affairs.” In defense of a democratic account of human rights, the LGBT agenda is now one of the key pillars of western foreign policy. Until the 1990s, being gay or queer was still considered a disease in the western world. But since then, things have changed quite a lot.
In 2017, the World Economic Forum addressed the issue of LGBT rights. The benefits of the approval of equal marriage and the decriminalization of same-sex relationships were highlighted. The implementation of LGBT-inclusive policies and legislation attracts foreign investment and retains LGBT talent. According to Antonio Zappula: “countries where such policies do not exist are missing out: the World Bank estimates India is losing $32 billion a year in economic output precisely because of widespread discrimination against LGBT people.”
Being gay is seen as something "trendy" these days, and a lot of “chic brands” support LGBT inclusion, such as Apple, Adidas, Nike, GAP, Abercrombie, Calvin Klein, H&M, Levi’s, Zara, and others. Economics, now more than ever, is one of the main forces that contribute to the growing inclusion of the LGBT community. Interestingly, we see that some changes in India began in the banking sector. Before decriminalizing same sex sexual relations in 2018, the Reserve Bank of India had directed banks to list the “third gender” category in their forms (2015). LGBT activism and the visibility of their struggle are being driven by economic interests. Only in the United States of America, the purchasing power of the LGBT community is 800 billion dollars. According a report released by the LGBT Foundation (Hong Kong), if the LGBT community were a country, it would be the world’s fourth-largest economy with a GDP of $4.6 trillion.
LGBT values are shaping geopolitics, especially in Europe. Following the deeper engagement of human rights institutions with LGBT rights, such as the United Nations, now States are to an increasing extent divided between those who support and those who reject the recognition of the LGBT community. A geopolitical form of constructing national and European identities around perceived attitudes to sexual and gender diversity has emerged, and so the political terms “sexual nationalism,” “sexual democracy,” “queer-migration,” “queer-refugee,” “queer-transnationalism,” “homonationalism,” “global gay,” “LGBT decolonial geopolitics” and “World War LGBT.”
Around LGBT rights, there is a clear division between Europe and Russia. In the Russian Federation, the deployment of political homophobia has been associated with internal and external geopolitical factors by the political scientist Nikita Sleptcov. The Russian-Georgian war, the chain of "color" revolutions in the countries of the former USSR, the expansion of NATO in the Russian area of influence, and the unilateralism of the West in global relations are all related to the Russian political homophobia, which can be understood as the rejection of the Western values and its moral decadence -according to the Russian perspective. Vitaliy Milonov, proposer of the Russian anti-propaganda law, has called Europe a threat to Russia’s moral sovereignty. Гейропа (Gayropa) is a term often used in Russian media, in order to refer to this perceived Western corruption and depravation.
In the context of Muslim homophobia, many also argue that opponents of the LGBT activists resist them because LGBT rights are perceived as imperialist and neo-colonial impositions from the West. Although resistance to LGBT inclusion is generally understood as a lack of development and modernization of a society or population, the truth is that the situation should be analyzed in a more complex framework. Many in this context perceive LGBT-foreign funded NGOs as entities whose aim is to Western-ize and deconstruct their longstanding cultures. The association of the LGBT community with Western global powers has encouraged the creation and the strengthening of binary and exclusive LGBT/Islam dichotomic divisions. “Neither East nor West, queer identities in Kosovo are depoliticized and constructed as vulnerable victims of the ‘transition’ that can only be liberated either by moving to Europe or bringing Europe home. In both instances, they are represented as outsiders to their immediate geographies (Piro Rexhepi, 2016)."
LGBT rights have been associated with a new and emerging idea of civilization. The Western world, which previously condemned homosexuality -let’s not forget that the root of the Russian homophobia is a Western religion-, now has a more positive assessment of it. According to sociology, the family is the basis of society. The Judeo-Christian heteronormative family is giving way to the new inclusive family. As a result, a new and more complex society is coming up. The idea of family is evolving very quickly, and more than a few groups are resenting these changes. International society begins to experience polarization around the LGBT cause. Social scientists are still debating the possible implications that this new inclusive family will have on Western society.
Given the importance that LGBT values are having as foreign policy concerns and geopolitical tools, the international relations theorists should begin to focus on its long-term impact. LGBT inclusion demands, closely related to the globalization process, are restructuring the previous symbolic and geopolitical hierarchies. Western powers are using LGBT equality and inclusion as a tool to maintain their image of civilizational advancement and cultural superiority. On the other hand, emerging powers reject the demands for recognition of the LGBT community as a means of reclaiming power, sovereignty, and independence from the imperialist West. Territorial imaginaries produce heterosexuality and gender binaries as a matter of imperial discourse, most recently in the context of a ‘war on terror.’ Sexual and gender-oriented politics have a great influence on geopolitics, particularly within the context of globalization and the shift to multipolarity.
The question is: what could the importance of LGBT ideology be in the next world war? Religion, geopolitics, the concept of family and even cultural values (Western or not) are being influenced by it.
Vicente Quintero has a degree in Liberal Studies from the Metropolitan University of Caracas, focused on politics, and is currently pursuing a postgraduate degree in Government and Public Policy. He has taken courses in culture and politics at SPBSPU (Russia) and has worked as an interpreter-translator and political advisor for journalists and foreign businessmen in Venezuela. He is an analyst at the International Anti-Crisis Center in St. Petersburg and writes for El Nacional Web (Venezuela), Cultura Colectiva (Mexico), The Global World (Spain) and WTC Radio (Venezuela).
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