A movement cannot avoid a period of stagnation, towards which Prof. Sébastien Chauvin shows no pessimism. According to him, the period is not a saturation point but instead, the time to rearrange and prepare for the upcoming movements.
The iSEE Talk themed “Discussion on LGBTQ rights in the world” featuring Prof. Sébastien Chauvin was held on December 21, 2018. The open talk examined interesting topics, ranging from prejudice, LGBTIQ+, to gender justice. The guest speaker and participants discuss the topics in a heated and highly interactive atmosphere.
Prof. Sébastien Chauvin has 15-year experience in studying gender and discrimination against homosexual people. He is one of the founders of IDAHOT (International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia which is held annually on May 17).
Opening the talk, Prof. Chauvin shared: “In some countries, gender justice is the most popular theme of the struggles. The struggle for same-sex marriage is a long-term one”. According to him, the movement towards LGBTIQ+ rights in European countries stems from the advocacy of same-sex marriage. Following the original movement, other movements are expanded using existing resources to promote other subjects namely transgender people, LGBTIQ+ people, immigrants, and refugees.
However, any movement is likely to experience a stagnation period, which takes place not only in Vietnam but also in other European countries. For example, in France, after the success of the struggle for same-sex marriage, the movement showed signs of slowdown since the society opposed same-sex couples adopting children. Talking about this stagnation period, Prof. Sébastien Chauvin does not show pessimism: “It is not a saturation point. Instead, it is the time we spent time rearranging and preparing for the upcoming movements”.
On the participation of the movement towards queer rights, Prof. Chauvin sees that the engagement of heterosexual males remains limited. This phenomenon can be explained by the fact that either heterosexual males do not see themselves as victims of gender inequality or they are not aware of the seriousness of the issue. Mr. Hoang Giang Son, iSEE’s Gender Justice program officer shared the same view: “Regardless of being male, female, or queer, we all face barriers of gender prejudice”.
From Son’s perspective, the involvement of heterosexual males in the LGBTIQ+ movement particularly and the Gender Justice movement generally is not crucially important. According to him, voluntary attitude in a social activity or movement is what should be prioritized. Son raised a question: If we set the goal of attracting more heterosexual males, are we attaching more importance to them and putting them in a higher position in opposed to other groups? Son reaffirmed the emphasis on individual voluntariness as each person, regardless of his/her sexual orientation and gender identity, plays equal important role in society.
The LGBTIQ+ movement also relates to the feminist movement. Prof. Chauvin provides the fact that up to now, the world’s feminism movement has experienced four stages. The first wave includes the movements fostering women’s right to vote in the 19th and 20th centuries. The second wave, which lasted from the 1960s to the 1990s, focuses on the struggle for women’s sexual and reproductive rights. The third wave, which began in the mid-1990s, challenges the limitations of “gender” together with other queer movements. Finally, the Me too movement and other similar campaigns are considered the fourth wave of the feminist movement in the world. “We notice that the new generation promoting feminism are frequent users of the Internet”, as commented by Prof. Chauvin
The current movements towards the rights of queer, transgender, and intersexual people are developing in many countries in the world, including Vietnam. The results are some of LGBTIQ+ rights have been recognized and prejudice – discrimination has been gradually removed. Members of the LGBTIQ+ community in Vietnam has noticed that 5 – 10 years ago, the image of LGBTIQ+ people was accompanied by negative prejudice. However, the situation has changed in recent years thanks to the open attitude of the society towards LGBTIQ+ people. Furthermore, some “positive prejudice” has appeared.
It is obvious that the process of advocacy of LGBTIQ+ rights remains challenged, especially in the context of the increasing number of hate speeches and human rights violating acts. As Prof. Chauvin noted, the movement towards LGBTIQ+ rights has been manipulated for political purposes. In some European countries, the movement is attached to nationalism by provoking hostility between LGBTIQ+ citizens and Muslim immigrants. The Netherlands is a typical example. Some parties which opposed homosexual people in the past now turned into protecting them. The parties have given speeches about the protection of LGBTIQ+ rights based on the fact that LGBTIQ+ people are a part of European society and at the same time delivered a message of anti-immigrants, notably Muslims. Being aware of this issue, many of LGBTIQ+ rights activists have voiced their objection to the attachment of rights to other purposes.
On the speaker:
Prof. Sébastien Chauvin, co-founder of the Center of Gender Studies, is currently working at the Institute of Social Sciences (University of Lausanne). He has been teaching in France, the US, and the Netherlands, where he works as the director of the Amsterdam Research Center for Gender and Sexuality. He is the co-author of the book “Introduction to Gender Studies” (De Boeck, 2nd edition, 2012) together with Laure Berenie, Alex Jaunait, and Anne Revillard; and the book “Sociology of Homosexuality” (La Découverte, 2013, Italian translation 2017) with Arnaud Lerch. His studies focus on gender, sexuality, class inequality, international migration, sociology of jobs, and racism. He is interested in the contemporary transformation of sexual and gender identity in the context of social, ethnic, and civil inequality.