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The Lesbian and Gay Movement and the State: Comparative Insights into a Transformed Relationship

By Mehta, Rakhi | Gay and Lesbian Issues and Psychology Review, August 2012 | Go to article overview

The Lesbian and Gay Movement and the State: Comparative Insights into a Transformed Relationship


Mehta, Rakhi, Gay and Lesbian Issues and Psychology Review


Tremblay, M., Paternotte, D., and Johnson, C. (Eds.) (2011). The lesbian and gay movement and the state: Comparative insights into a transformed relationship. London: Ashgate. ISBN 978-1-4094-1066-9.

This book examines how lesbian and gay movements impact and are impacted by the historical, political, legal, social and cultural scenario prevailing in fifteen countries around the world. The book is a must read for people working in the social sciences, politics, law, and NGOs, as well as people interested in the gay and lesbian rights movement. The chapters are written by political scientists or sociologists investigating this area, and all provide answers to two basic questions, namely how has the state influenced the gay and lesbian movement and how has the movement impacted the state. The chapters are well organised, each beginning with a positive tone highlighting the success of the movement in that country. To quote from the chapter based in Argentina, for example:

On December 28, 2009, Freyre and di Bello finally wedded in Ushuaia city becoming the first same sex couple in Latin America to have contracted marriage. These dramatic events represented the beginning of important victories in the struggle waged by Argentina's LG movement to challenge the traditional definition of marriage, a struggle that culminated with the reforms of the civil code approved by the Argentina congress in 2010 that allowed for gay marriage nationally.

Such an introduction generates curiosity in the reader's mind as to what must have led to the beginning, struggle, and success of the movement, all of which is explained in the later part of the chapter.

The historical background or the beginning of the lesbian and gay movement within the respective countries covered in the book, when viewed as a whole by the reader, provides clear insights into the diversity existing among the various countries. For example, in Belgium the lesbian and gay movement began when the country merged with the European Union, thereby exposing it to the status of the movement within Europe. In India it was a legal protest against Section 377, whilst in the Netherlands it emerged because of religious and class liberalisation. These examples emphasise the cross-cultural perspective of the study of lesbian and gay movements.

The book also deals with the question of how the state impacts on the lesbian and gay movement, which makes for an interesting read for both students of politics and law, as the chapters beautifully bring out the interplay between the law of the land and the quality of government in power, both of which effect lesbian and gay movements.

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