Tuesday, February 20, 2018

LGBT Legislation in Argentina vs. Brazil

Omar G. Encarnación, "Gay Rights Landscapes in Argentina and Brazil," Human Rights Quarterly 40, 1 (February 2018): 194-218. Link here but gated.


Why did Latin America’s most famously sexually liberated country, Brazil, fall behind one of its most socially conservative societies, Argentina, in expanding LGBT equality? This essay examines this puzzling question through the lens of the divergent landscapes of gay rights that have erupted in Argentina and Brazil since both countries became liberal democracies in the mid-1980s. Looking beyond differences in support for LGBT legislation by the executive branch, the religious context, the composition of the party system, and levels of social and economic development, this study focuses on the gay rights campaign. While in Brazil the campaign for gay rights followed the model of a conventional political struggle for civil rights, in Argentina it was framed as a human rights crusade, a strategy that, among other things, resonated profoundly with the country’s search for justice, equality and the deepening of democracy.

I think this is really interesting. A bit more:

In Argentina, gay activists waged a “human rights crusade,” animated by a very expansive, even idealistic, notion of gay equality, especially in connection to the issue of same-sex marriage. It regarded the freedom of sexuality as a fundamental human right. Argentina’s influential human rights community served as the campaign’s political anchor. This grounding in the human rights movement helped boost the framing of the campaign for gay rights as a human rights crusade and as part of a larger struggle by civil society for justice, citizenship, and democracy. It also enhanced the campaign’s success in mutually-supporting ways, such as prioritizing changing hearts and minds about homosexuality over enacting LGBT legislation; giving the campaign tremendous resonance within the culture at large (given the prominence of human rights in Argentine politics); and affording the advocacy of gay activists a rare moral significance that worked to undercut societal opposition to gay rights.
 Brazilian gay rights activists, by contrast, engaged for the most part in a “civil rights struggle.” Its overarching goal was to legitimize gay rights under Brazilian law. For instance, there was no marriage equality campaign in Brazil. Instead, gay activists demanded “stable unions,” which are recognized under the Brazilian Constitution. For its political anchor, Brazilian gay activists depended upon an alliance with the Workers’ Party (PT), the first party in Latin America to embrace gay rights. This alliance was a mixed blessing for the gay rights movement. On the one hand, it gave Brazilian activists visibility, organizational expertise, and access to state resources unparalleled in all of Latin America. On the other hand, the close affiliation of gay activists with the PT undermined the ambition of the gay rights movement; discouraged building support for gay rights within civil society by focusing the struggle for gay rights squarely within the legislature and the courts; and solidified opposition to gay rights by foes of the gay community, who were quick to label gay rights as “special rights.”

A key point here is that the struggle in Argentina was conducted outside political institutions, whereas in Brazil is had started within the Worker's Party (despite later being ignored by Lula) and focused primarily on state mechanisms to advance. In Argentina the focus was first on human rights and then on the nuts and bolts of legislation. The lesson: if you're an activist, be careful about hitching your wagon to a political party.


shah8 2:43 AM  

People don't got a choice, tho'

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