Rights through Resistance: What lies beyond Legalism for the LGBT Movement?
This paper examines how the LGBT movement has prioritised identity politics and human rights discourse to gain legal equality and non-discrimination in employment and social policy in many parts of the world. The legalist approach taken so far has marginalised more radical possibilities of resistance by rendering diverse identities and intersectionality invisible. Furthermore, it has also given ammunition to counter mobilisation led by the religious right and cultural nationalism to dictate terms of the debate leading to political and judicial backlash. In this context, historical examination of the LGBT movement in comparison with civil rights movement and local case-studies gives three trajectories of ‘lost’ possibilities, a new context and significance. These possibilities are (i) limiting the forces of counter mobilisation to set the agenda for LGBT politics, (ii) reframing LGBT identity issues by expanding priorities, and, (iii) returning to every day politics of resistance to question normativity. This paper argues that such a revitalisation allows grassroots to be organically connected with agenda setting and enables a critique of macro-institutions through micro politics. Such a development has potential to usher a new age of LGBT resistance beyond legalism.