Browsing by Subject "homosexuality"

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  • Ylppö, Myrsky (Helsingfors universitet, 2016)
    This thesis explores how the Finnish media’s representations of homosexual men and women changed between 1990 and 2010, from negative public portrayals towards more positive ones. The thesis also examines if these changes reflect attitudes and opinions of the Finnish society and population overall during this time period. The primary sources consist of newspaper articles from the newspaper Helsingin Sanomat, along with material from other newspapers, tabloids, and supporting research material. The chosen theoretical approach for this thesis is qualitative research, and Queer theory is also employed to a certain extent. A larger focus for my study is Helsinki Pride, which has an important role in the Finnish LGBTQ community and gay culture. The festival is a grassroots movement and a political product of Seta, the main LGBTQ rights organisation in Finland. Helsinki Pride has played a role of utmost importance in consolidating and renewing the public images and representations of Finnish sexual minorities. This has mainly transpired through asserting the visual and spatial expressions and demands of the festival upon the public space of the city, usually reserved for the heterosexual mainstream. Due to the diversity and division existing within the Finnish LGTBQ community, this public image has not, however, been completely accurate or unproblematic. This has further complicated the construction of a unified public image, and has lead to the emergence of notions of homonormativity and other established forms of discrimination within the LGBTQ community. Visibility, which plays another important role in this study, has the effect of legitimising existence in society. Until the 1990s, the public images and representations of sexual minorities had been firmly maintained and controlled by the Finnish media, with members of the local LGBTQ community unable to partake in the construction of these definitions. The AIDS crisis with its aftermath in the 1990s had drawn homosexuals out of the shadows of anonymity and into the public space for scrutiny. For the first time homosexuals were presented with the opportunity of more extensively representing themselves publicly in the Finnish media, on their own terms. The 2000s marked the transition from the 1990s, with homosexuality as a human rights topic and political element, to one of representations of a minority group struggling to shake off stereotypes, homophobia, and false public conceptions. The abolition of many discriminatory legislations against homosexuals in the late 1990s and early 2000s also allowed for further expansion of the homosexuals’ visibility and influence in the Finnish media and society. The results of my work confirmed that the Finnish media’s representations of homosexuals changed notably during the period of 1990-2010. Much of the visibility and positive depictions in the media of the 2000s have been garnered through the Finnish LGBTQ community’s own activities, e.g. the Pride festivals, but also through the media’s growing interest for trendy and commercial gay portrayals. Thus the representations and public images of homosexuals in the Finnish media changed from those in the 1990s of ridiculed deviants towards those of more normal, Finnish citizens by the 2010s.
  • Alava, Henni Leena (2017)
    Christian churches have played crucial but diverse roles in public debates over homosexuality in Africa. In contrast to the vocal and explicit homophobia witnessed in many Pentecostal-Charismatic Churches (PCCs), homosexuality has until recently been an overwhelmingly silenced issue in the Acholi region of Northern Uganda, and an almost complete non-issue in the local Catholic Church. This article suggests that while this silence in part relates to the temporal proximity of the Northern Ugandan war, the absence of LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex) activism in the region, and the hesitance of mainline churches to talk about sex, it is also embedded in what are considered to be customary Acholi understandings of sexuality. Offering an analysis of Acholi Catholic teaching on peace and the family, the article suggests that Catholicism has entrenched heteronormative patriarchy in Acholi society. However, as illustrated by the unpopularity of church weddings, the norms that govern sexuality are negotiated in the dynamic space between religion and what are contemporarily understood as ‘modern’ and ‘customary’ Acholi moral sensibilities. The article emphasizes the need for scholarship on religion and homosexuality to extend beyond PCCs and capital cities, and beyond the most explicit forms of public homophobia in Africa.
  • Lehtolaakso, Heidi (Helsingin yliopisto, 2018)
    ISIS, the Islamic State of Syria and Iraq, is a relatively new player on the field of international politics. ISIS managed to strengthen its position in Syria and Iraq especially during 2013-2015 with its nearly full-fledged army and by building and providing basic infrastructure in areas torn by the war in Syria. The aim of this research is to look at the violence ISIS practises against LGBTQ minorities and how this violence helps build ISIS’s legitimacy both regionally and as an international actor. To help answer the research question, a theoretical framework has been built on the paradigms of power by Michel Foucault. The paradigms used for the theoretical framework are sovereign power, biopolitical power and disciplinary power. The advantage of the chosen theoretical framework is that with it the research is able to discuss the formation of legitimacy and power through certain mechanisms of power, and when the state is not at the centre of the analysis of power formation, but rather different regimes of power. Thus, the research is able to discuss an actor like ISIS that cannot be discussed as a nation-state without reservations, and its legitimacy building. The data in this research is comprised of photo and video material from public executions of victims that are accussed of engaging in homosexual activities. The data in this research has been transcribed from their visual form to a textual one in the form of short scripts. In addition to the scripts, there are three supporting methods of analysis: ”mash-up” technique for photo editing, where multiple photographs have been made slightly transparent and place on top of one another, photo collections and generalising models of the different phases in the executions drawn with a computer program. The research finds that the role of audience is essential witnessing these events. If there is not audience, present on witnessing distributed material of the events, the executions do not help to build or foster ISIS legitimacy or authority. Through these executions, ISIS is taking advantage of an already stigmatised minority and its weak societal position in the area where ISIS is active to build its own legitimacy and credibility regionally and to shock the international community and gain its attention by distributing execution material online and in social media. The central findings of this research are that ISIS is using these executions to build legitimacy in two ways. On the one hand, ISIS portrays itself as the protector of the local population, purging the community of disdained homosexuals. On the other hand ISIS manages to place itself in stark contrast to Western liberal values that support the rights of sexual minorities. Therefore, ISIS is building its legitimacy with violence towards sexual minorities on two levels.
  • Lehtonen, Jukka (2002)
    The study deals with the sexuality and gender of young people and the way they get expressed in various practices at school. I interviewed 30 non-heterosexual young people, 16 girls and 14 boys. Their ages ranged from 15 to 20 years. The reason to interview non-heterosexual young people was my interest in their experiences, and the assumption that non-heterosexual youth have more memories of heteronormativity. I analysed their stories, and, on the basis of the interviews, reconstructed school practices and studied ways of challenging and maintaining heteronormativity. The study draws largely on gender-specific studies in the sociology of education as well as on lesbian and gay studies. For gender analysis and the study of performativity, Judith Butler provided useful theoretical ideas. Other important scholars were Tuula Gordon, Elina Lahelma, Sinikka Aapola, Tarja Palmu, Tarja Tolonen, Helena Saarikoski, Janet Holland, Debbie Epstein, Mairtin MacAnGhaill, James Sears, and Jeffrey Weeks. I am involved in a research project 'Citizenship, Difference and Marginality at School – with Special Reference to Gender', lead by Tuula Gordon. I research at the construction of sexuality and gender in school practices. I analyse the ways in which heteronormativity becomes intertwined in these practices. Heteronormativity involves the idea that heterosexual masculinity for men and heterosexual femininity for women are seen as self-evident, or natural basis for gender and sexuality, or that they are presented as something better compared to other alternatives. I analyse sex education as well as the gendered sports and craft education at school, and the behaviour of teachers. I study the relationships between young people, abusive words and bullying based on gender or sexuality, as well as the stories dealing with sexuality told. I am interested in the ways non-heterosexuality is both manifested and concealed. I look at the use of space and embodiment. I analyse the three layers of school: the official school with its textbooks and organisation of teaching, the informal school involving the informal relationships between students, and the physical school with the various uses of space and body. School cultures vary from one school to another and even within one school depending on the way students and teachers feel about these practices. Ideas about yourself in terms of gender and sexuality are formed as part of the school practices which, in turn, interact with the surrounding culture and society. Heteronormativity and the ways it is challenged get expressed in the school practices in many ways. Heterosexual masculinity for men and heterosexual femininity for women are conceived as something natural and depicted as the only present and future alternative. Other alternatives are not brought up, or they are presented as something questionable. Alternative gender and sexual behaviours are controlled by teachers and, in particular, by students themselves. Some young people are put in an unfair position. Because of heteronormative practices, some students avoid close relationships with their peers, or choices transgressing the gender boundaries. School practices also include various ways of challenging heteronormativity by both the school employees and students. The practices of heteronormativity themselves enable its challenging, and the challenging of heteronormativity may, in turn, lead to attempts to maintain it.
  • Dsilva, Keshia (Helsingin yliopisto, 2018)
    There exists an extensive body of research on homosexuality, yet only a few studies address local meanings of homosexuality and still fewer attempt to understand the processes that construct these meanings and the values and beliefs of the people that share these meanings. Such studies would be particularly relevant in India as a developing and highly pluralistic country where the legal status of homosexuality has been in a state of flux. The unique history and religious diversity in India have shaped the way in which different communities come to understand homosexuality. Influences of both colonization and tradition are salient and constantly interacting, yet in many ways conflicting with each other. To explore these influences and intersections in relation to conceptions of homosexuality, the social representation theory was used as a methodological framework. Semi-structured interviews were conducted in Bangalore with six families from the urban middle class representing the major religions of Hinduism, Islam and Christianity. Out of these six families, two families from each of the three religions participated. For each family, one member belonged to the youngest generation (18+ years of age), one to the middle generation and one to the grandparents’ generation. As Bangalore is the second fastest growing metropolis in India, it provided a good background to explore potential influences of modernisation. The inter-generational and inter-religious approach helped to provide insights on how these categories, in addition to their national identity as Indians, entwine and frame these participants’ representations of homosexuality. Across religions and generations, three representations of homosexuality were identified: nature, nurture and culture. In the first, homosexuality was categorized in terms of what is ‘natural’ and ‘unnatural’, in the second in terms of ‘normal’ and ‘abnormal’ and in the third, in terms of ‘deviant’ and ‘non-deviant’. Despite these convergent primary categorizations, participants’ ages, religions and gendered perceptions of what constitutes homosexuality intersected in diverse yet specific and patterned ways. My analysis sheds light on the functions served by these representations, local practices and customs, as well as social change in India with respect to meanings, understandings and practices of homosexuality.
  • Lehto, Enni (Helsingin yliopisto, 2021)
    The rights of sexual minorities have advanced at an increasingly rapid pace over the last decades, particularly in Europe. The European Convention on Human Rights (the Convention) and its compliance monitoring institutions, the European Commission of Human Rights and the European Court of Human Rights (the Court), have played an important role in this development. However, despite the many important victories that have been won at Strasbourg over the years, the Court has so far been unwilling to afford fully equal rights to sexual minorities, especially when it comes to marriage and other forms of legal protection for relationships. While some European countries have broadened their definitions of marriage of their own accord, others are busy amending their constitutions to specifically prevent any such development. In such a landscape, a supranational institution like the European Court of Human Rights has a key role to play in directing the future of gay rights in Europe. This study maps the development of relationship related rights of homosexual people in the jurisprudence of the Court and explores some possible explanations for both the shifts that have taken place and the current state of these rights under the Convention. It will first lay out the relevant caselaw to demonstrate how the level of protection afforded to homosexual applicants has differed from that enjoyed by the heterosexual majority in the past and what inequalities still exist today. This reveals five key issues that have featured as battlegrounds for equality in the practice of the Court: the complete criminalisation of homosexuality, unequal ages of consent for homosexual and heterosexual sex, the exclusion of homosexual relationships from the definition of “family life” under Article 8 of the Convention, the lack of legal recognition for homosexual partnerships, and the lack of access to marriage and consequently to other rights and benefits exclusively available to married couples. While the first three have subsequently been rectified, the Court has yet to articulate a clear requirement to provide some form of legal recognition to homosexual couples and has consistently denied that any obligation to provide for same-sex marriage could be derived from the Convention. The second part of the study will explore two possible explanations for both the way these rights have developed and their current state: the Court’s role as an international court and its conceptualisation of homosexuality. Neither the Court as a whole nor its individual judges can avoid having their views of homosexuality influenced by the wider societal attitudes. The understanding of homosexuality affects the way the Court handles cases related to it, and consequently the changes in the Court’s conceptualisation of homosexuality can explain developments in its jurisprudence. Analysing the caselaw though this lens indicates that a conception of homosexuality as undesirable and dangerous can be found underlying the earlier caselaw. However, the Court’s understanding has since evolved, and it currently does not consider homosexuality fundamentally different or less deserving than heterosexuality. The Court’s still ongoing refusal to afford equal rights to homosexuals can be better attributed to reasons stemming from its legal and political position as an international court. As an international institution founded by a voluntary treaty, the Court’s effectiveness ultimately relies on the willing cooperation of the contracting states. Therefore, it needs to constantly persuade the states of the legitimacy of its decisions and to be careful not to “go too far”, lest they stop executing its judgements or withdraw from the treaty altogether. The Court attempts to preserve its legitimacy mainly through the creation and application of its interpretation methods, which function to sustain an appearance of judicial consistency and legal stability and to persuade its audience of its impartiality and value-neutrality. The European consensus doctrine is particularly useful for improving the foreseeability of the Court’s decisions and increasing the member states’ confidence in the legitimacy of the institution. While the application of the consensus doctrine has been beneficial for the evolution of gay rights in the past, it now appears to be hindering any further progress. Since the majority of the member states do not yet offer fully equal rights to LGBT+ people, the stringent application of the European consensus doctrine leads the Court to conclude that the remaining inequalities fall within the states’ margin of appreciation. There are, however, some possible alternatives to the consensus approach. For example, focusing on the discriminatory aspects of the cases might prove more effective for furthering the development of gay rights under the Convention.