Human Rights and Homo-sectuals: The International Politics of Sexuality, Religion, and Law

Redding, Jeffrey A. | January 1, 2006

This article argues that international human rights law does not adequately respect people’s plural religious and sexual identities and, moreover, is working to ignore the ways in which both governments and individuals are increasingly reconfiguring “sexual persecution” as “religious persecution.” The article uses case-studies from both and to demonstrate not only how state persecution of gays, lesbians, and homosexuals is often steeped in claims of religiosity, but also how increasing numbers of people from around the world are challenging traditional religious practices which denigrate gayness and homosexuality. Thus, when such “homo-sectuals” – to use a neologism – are persecuted, they understand this persecution as religious persecution. Given this reality, the article argues that international human rights norms and practices could better respect persons’ diverse self-identifications and self-understandings by more seriously deploying existing human rights protections concerning religious persecution.