Love is human : queer activists in Kenya, Lebanon and Singapore fighting for freedom of expression and decriminalization of same-sex relationships

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Leboeuf, Charles-Antoine
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Freedom of expression is a fundamental human right deemed essential in free and democratic societies. Yet, free speech is regularly curtailed by states, including by limiting expression on certain topics, such as sexual and gender diversity. In 2020, 42 states in the world restrict freedom of expression on such issues, including Kenya, Lebanon and Singapore. All three countries also criminalize same-sex relationships. This study seeks to compare how local activists in these three countries with different socio-cultural, political, and historical backgrounds are working to bring about legal change against laws that restrict free speech on queer issues and criminalize their existence. Activists for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, intersex plus (LGBTQI+) rights selectively use the human rights framework, including international, regional and national human rights standards, to achieve their goals. This thesis particularly focuses on analyzing how global human rights norms are translated locally to contribute to activists' desired outcomes. This research uses empirical data from 14 interviews with LGBTQI+ activists from Kenya, Lebanon, and Singapore. This thesis found that the struggle for the protection of freedom of expression on sexual and gender diversity issues is closely linked to efforts to decriminalize same-sex intimacy in the study countries. Key words: Activism, freedom of expression, free speech, human rights framework, Kenya, localization, Lebanon, LGBTQI+, queer, sexual and gender diversity, Singapore
Second semester University: Utrecht University
freedom of expression, gender identity, gender discrimination, homosexuality, transgender, Kenya, Lebanon, Singapore, intersexuality, freedom of speech, activists