Uneven encounters and paradoxical rights: embodiment and difference in sexual orientation rights and activism

Lalor, K. 2012. Uneven encounters and paradoxical rights: embodiment and difference in sexual orientation rights and activism. PhD thesis University of Westminster School of Law https://doi.org/10.34737/8z3xv

TitleUneven encounters and paradoxical rights: embodiment and difference in sexual orientation rights and activism
TypePhD thesis
AuthorsLalor, K.

My thesis takes the intersection of sexual orientation and human rights and the increased tendency towards the expression of the concerns of sexual minorities in rights based terminology in international law as a Deleuzian ‘problem’ to be explored and unpicked. Sexual orientation is a singular expression of a complex multifaceted virtuality, yet the term -­‐ understood as a static and relatively unchanging denotation of a particular identity and mode of action -­‐ holds increasing purchase as a human rights issue. I explore the way in which rights shape the expression of sexuality within institutional and activist practices in international arenas and suggest that the complex and contested encounter between sexuality and human rights in international law exposes the problems, limits and temporality of both. By taking seriously the problems inherent to the encounters between sexuality and rights, as they are expressed in different material circumstances, we can explore sexuality as a mutliplicitous and changing flux and rights as a dual sided paradox, acting simultaneously machines of territorialisation and machines of deteritorialisation. Thus, I suggest that in their engagement with questions of 'sexual orientation', rights act as both modes of control, restriction and exclusion and as modes of communication and connection, challenge and escape, depending upon the particular circumstances within which they are expressed. As such, I attempt to engage with the embeddedness of ‘sexuality’ within particular material contexts and through this engagement, explore different potentialities that are implicated within divergent enactments of rights and sexuality in order to critique a mode of action that remains fixed upon abstract discussion of ossified ‘sexualities’ and transcendental rights. Furthermore, my aim is to approach the encounter not only as a means of critique but also as a moment of uncertainty and a site of productive engagement, vitality and becoming. Thus, the key question to be asked of the encounter between sexual orientation and rights is not one of which rights have been violated or of how a perceived violation can be expressed in relation to an already conceived and fixed discourse of rights, but instead, which material circumstances have facilitated the expression of injustice suffered by a sexual minority as a rights violation and in expressing the violation in this way, which possibilities, problematics and discourses are activated, and which others are ignored.

YearMay 2012
PublisherUniversity of Westminster
Publication dates
PublishedMay 2012
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.34737/8z3xv

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