UCL Uncovering Politics

LGBT+ Politics

Episode Summary

This week we ask: What explains successes and setbacks in the promotion of LGBT+ rights? And is political science as welcoming as it should be towards LGBT+ research?

Episode Notes

The transformation of LGBT+ lives in many societies has been one of the greatest advances of the last half century. Where previously there was criminalization and ostracism, today – often – there is inclusion and celebration. But this has not happened equally everywhere, or for all LGBT+ people. And in some places, and on some issues, there are strong counter-movements.

This week we are joined by one of our newest colleagues at the UCL Department of Political Science: Phillip Ayoub, Professor of International Relations.

Mentioned in this episode:

Episode Transcription


lgbt rights, lgbti, visibility, norms, movements, states, lgbt, lgbti rights, book, politics, political science, adopting, transnational, trans, rights, kinds, people, issues, world, attitudes


Alan Renwick, Philip Ayoub


Alan Renwick  00:05

Hello this is UCL Uncovering Politics. This week we ask what explains successes and setbacks in the promotion of LGBT+ rights and as political science as welcoming as it should be towards LGBT+ research?


Hello, my name is Alan Renwick. And welcome to UCL Uncovering Politics, the podcast of the School of Public Policy, and Department of Political Science at University College London. The transformation of LGBT+ lives in many societies has been one of the greatest advances of the last half century. Where previously there was criminalization and ostracism. Today, often, there is inclusion, and celebration. But this has not happened equally everywhere or for all LGBT+ people. And in some places, on some issues, there are strong counter movements. 


So what explains the successes and the setbacks in advancing LGBT+ rights? And what can other advocacy networks learn from the LGBT+ movement? Well, the research of one of our newest colleagues here in the UCL Department of Political Science focuses on exactly these questions. He is Philip Ayoub, Professor of International Relations. And I'm delighted to say that he joins me here today. Philip has also recently written a piece about the place of LGBT+ people and research within political science. And we'll explore that a little later, too. 


So Philip, welcome to UCL Uncovering Politics. And I'd like to start with what I guess is the central focus of your research on what shapes success and failure in promoting LGBT+ rights. Your book 'When states come out: Europe's sexual minorities, and the politics of visibility' was published a few years ago, but you're new to UCL Of course, and I guess some listeners may not be familiar with it. So do you want to tell us what you were asking in that book and what you found?


Philip Ayoub  02:06

Thank you, Alan, thanks a lot for having me here. And yes, I'm very happy to do that. My my book asks the question of why some states adopt LGBTI rights and not other states? And I really focused on the importance of transnational movements and norms, which I argue have reshaped the lived experience for LGBTI people in many contexts, certainly not all, as you already alluded to, but in many places. And there was a puzzle inherent in that question, because much of the early work isolated such change to domestic factors like secular secularism, wealth, or high levels of democracy, but many of the states that around the globe that started adopting these rights there and started adopting them very quickly, they challenged some of those theories, in that we have a lot of surprising kinds of states that adopted. So you can think of, for example, you know, Ireland, passing marriage equality by popular vote in 2015. That's certainly not really what we expected of, of that particular case. And, and, indeed, it, this whole transformation around issues like marriage equality, have been very surprising, given that, you know, not long year ago, just a little over 20 years ago, the Netherlands was the first country to adopt for marriage equality, following, you know, Denmark, which adopted registered partnership for the first time just over 30 years ago in 1989. 


But today, you know, many dozens of states have policies like that actually, over 20, European states have adopted some form of same sex union at the federal level, and we have countries on on all continents, you know, that are having some forms of same sex unions in certain states. And so that's been really interesting to try to understand. And I think that led me to argue that alongside those earlier domestic explanations, we have to also look at, you know, something, transnational or transnational currents that seem to be having some kind of an effect on this issue, because it's certainly not a coincidence that we see these kinds of issues popping up in multiple places. And that that argument, you know, that I developed, I try to try to say that there's a process where various channels of norm visibility have increased the felt expediency of states to adopt these kinds of rights, in that they also use these rights to signal to their international communities, that they're legitimate members of them. 


And there's certain kinds of channels that that's that makes states more attuned to these issues. And so there for example, you have social channels of visibility, which include the circulation of ideas and images, which, for example, you know, some folks talked about the Will and Grace effect back in in the 1990s, which, you know, my students have told me is not the best example of media featuring LGBT people, but it's certainly intoduces new characters and new types of people across borders. There are also political channels, which is another channel of visibility, which I argue are very important in that they have intensified ties between states and international organisations that have started to request states to introduce some of these rights. And here, the European Union is a key example of an international organisation that has some, some standards that states have to meet now to join the European Union that also encompass LGBT people, for example, you know, workplace anti discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. 


And then importantly, there's a mediated channel that I argue in the book is quite important. And that emerges through the work of transnational advocacy networks. And these mediate mediated channels are key because they involve local activists who are also embedded in transnational networks, and they mediate between international and domestic norms, to frame the message so that it would fit locally, and that it can quell perceptions of threat that are so often assigned to LGBT rights norms. And that means the same kind of norms around LGBT rights might be packaged very differently in different audiences. And so you could have, you know, an LGBT Pride Parade in Poland can be described in using frames of Catholic, you know, of the Catholic religion, like love thy neighbour, which obviously would make less sense in the UK. But these are, these are the work, you know, these activists are playing a two level games in that they are working in transnational advocacy networks where they can extract certain certain resources and certain best practices, but then they can also reshape and repackage those, you know, ways of doing things in their own specific contexts in a way that can try to quell the contentious nature of the issue for a specific audience.


Alan Renwick  06:56

That's a fantastic overview. Thank you so much. And before we get further into your own particular account of what's going on here, shall we say a little bit more about the kind of theories and ideas about movement success that you were responding to? So you talked about how some of the cases, Ireland adopting same sex marriage, for example, might have been regarded as quite surprising from the perspective of some of the existing theories about movement success? Do you want to say a bit more about what were the kinds of factors that were presumed to be important in those in those existing theories?


Philip Ayoub  07:31

Yeah, absolutely. So a lot of the earlier work had focused on the kind of small states that we think of as most likely to do, you know, interesting things around gender and sexuality. And so often, the Netherlands or Sweden, these were the kinds of states that had long histories of women's movements, were relatively rich, were highly democratic. And were quite secular states as well. And so they seemed like the usual, you know, or the prime suspects for adopting and being pioneers on these kinds of issues. And indeed, those factors did explain in many cases where our contemporary articulations of LGBT rights emerged. 


But when we look at where they spread, then it becomes often a different set of factors. And so if you look at newer adoptive states, states that followed those norms, you see a lot of other factors playing a role. And in many cases, some of those states would leap frog earlier success states. So you could think of a country like Spain that was kind of written off as too Catholic for LGBT rights for a while adopting marriage equality quite early, and being quite a leader in that area where attitudes changed quite quickly, where other pieces of legislation affecting LGBT people were innovated and developed, and in some, some cases, even surpassing, you know, some of the model first mover states. And so that's, that is, in part, what I was responding to, with the earlier literature on LGBT rights. 


I also, you know, of course, drew heavily from work that was focusing on transnational advocacy to make those claims. And there you have important work by Ken Sikich [???], and others that has really, really changed, has reshaped how we think about world politics. But there are too if you really think the LGBTI case is a very interesting one because it teaches us and nuance to some of what we know in that in that transnational advocacy space as well, given that there have been few cases of of change in the world in the last three decades that have had such tremendous change when it comes to shifts in attitudes, and also proliferation of new kinds of legal institutions that have spread across across cases. 


And we'll talk a lot later about how a lot of these rights only apply to some, you know, some groups and in some states and there's a lot of contestation around them, but there has been unexpected and, and remarkable degrees of change in in some aspects of these rights. And I think that's something that we also didn't, didn't fully capture or expect in in world politics theory and and studying it, it has taught us a few things about what we knew there as well. And for example, world society, the world society school in sociology, which much early work on transnational advocacy rested on, really underestimated, I think agency and the importance of having actors on the ground that can graft and frame contested rights to very different local contexts. 


And this is one of the takeaways, you know about localization and what I call norm brokerage, which is to really emphasise needing actors on the ground that can can package rights in a certain way. And it challenges the idea that this rights diffusion can be orchestrated successfully from the top down. And so when you have INGOs, or IOs, trying to push for LGBT rights on their own, oftentimes, that doesn't work if you don't have, you know, allies who are requesting that kind of support locally. Another, you know, another main takeaway is with LGBTI rights is that there's backlash everywhere. And so unlike some of the norms that we used to study, which were less contentious, you know, LGBT rights are just always highly contested. And it's a very hard case for change. Because we have underestimated I think, the resistance that comes with some norms, and that's resistance that appears at all levels, whether local, or at the state level, or at the international level, which is part and parcel of the way that LGBTI norm diffusion works. And I think those are, you know, just to not go go on too long, a couple of the main takeaways that we can use to theorising other trends in politics, or in political science.


Alan Renwick  11:50

And is it fair to say that the core concept in your approach to understanding success here is the concept of visibility? And you've got it? You've talked about it earlier, it's in the title of your book. And what do you mean by visibility exactly? And just what are the mechanisms through which visibility is really working here?


Philip Ayoub  12:10

Yeah, that's a great question. I mean, visibility is a very tricky concept. And I talk about it as kind of a double edged sword in the book, because it has, you know, some key, it has some important effects in terms of making a group visible in a way that it can demand rights. But of course, it also comes with serious consequences. Visibility can also lead to, you know, heightened attention to a group that can increase violence toward them. And thus, it's so important, as I mentioned before, that it is local activists that are steering when that visibility needs to take place, and whether the context is ready for that visibility or not. 


What I mean, in the book by norm visibility is, you know, I emphasise that for a norm to have effects and to be felt it needs to be visible in the domestic space. And that's something quite interesting that LGBT rights can teach us because we often assume in the literature that norms just kind of float around everywhere. But I, I think that their felt intensity matters a lot. And that felt intensity is contingent upon the kinds of channels that make certain norms visible in certain contexts and not in others. So you know, what makes a state more porous to those norms, has a lot to do with the kind of social, political, and mediated channels of visibility that I described before. And there you see a lot of variation across states. 


And that's something we can also test quantitatively to see that a new adopter states, those kinds of channels, they vary across states, and they have, you know, they have outputs, when it comes to adopting LGBTI rights. That doesn't mean that these are the only circulating norms. And that's, I think, something we'll probably get to later, there's also competing norms that become visible that and you know, bad ideas that become visible that also work according to that same logic, and they can also diffuse other kinds of policies, depending on often how norms enter different domestic discourse, different domestic spaces.


Alan Renwick  14:12

And how exactly is visibility having an effect? I mean, is it is it directly upon general public opinion? Is it opinion among certain kinds of elites that they shift? And then they bring the public with them? And what are the dynamics that are operating here?


Philip Ayoub  14:30

I think the dynamics are they are complicated. And I look at both norm compliance and norm internalisation across different states. So the compliance deals with the degree to which states adopt laws and that's often you know, one of the first ways that visibility works is that states feel an imperative to adopt a certain norm and to codify the law in order to signal to the broader community of states that they have recognised that norm and are doing something about it. And there you can see for example, or, if you think of like Malta, which is sits now on top of many indices of LGBTI rights, the leadership there in the parliament there has often talked about it as a way to signal their, their place as a modern state in the European Union. And, of course, that is quite sinister, and also problematic that that's what's driving, you know, that's what's driving part of this transformation and not actually wanting to protect local LGBT communities. And often they go hand in hand. 


But, you know, a lot of the rhetoric has focused on the former, but it shows the way that, you know, this kind of visibility can shift political elites, and in many cases that can also transform attitudes. I mean, we have I looked at this in the book, and there's a lot of research in Latin American and North America that say that, you know, the movement by elites on these issues do be done later on to more more positive attitudes in the general population, I think there's still work to be done in terms of how that can vary across contexts. And in Eastern Europe, for example, we've oftentimes seen attitudes, the visibility lead first to more negative attitudes, in part because that enters a, a, you know, puts a spotlight on LGBT people and creates a debate around them, that often includes a lot of disparaging, and negative voices. And then you can see shifts in attitudes going in both directions. But if there is a movement on the ground that can really, you know, reclaim that space in the discourse. And oftentimes, you see attitudes that dip and bounce back in a way that research has shown in North America or Latin America or Western Europe to take place.


Alan Renwick  16:41

So it's really interesting, though, that you're getting contradictory responses to visibility in different places. So in some, in some places, you're suggesting that visibility leads to a transformation in public attitudes towards greater support for LGBT+ rights. Whereas in other places, you're saying at least in the short term, a backlash being the dominant response? What's the what's producing that? Is it something about the strategies of the LGBT+ movements in these places? Is it something about underlying attitudes? Is it something about the nature of the reactions from from from movements pushing in the other direction? For what can, we can we tell what's shaping these different responses?


Philip Ayoub  17:25

Well, I mean, certainly strategies can be misplaced in some cases. But I think the overarching explanation of this quite uniform gut reaction of resistance in so many contexts has a lot to do with the way that gender and sexuality are seen as a threat to more fixed identities like, like nationalism or religion. And that's in part because gender and, gender and sexuality are very fluid concepts and they are perceived in many societies, and that's also exploited by political actors, as destabilising to their their imagined identities of what their society is supposed to look like. And that's why oftentimes, LGBTQ rights even though we have plenty of research that shows that adopting LGBT rights does not hurt the economy or make states less secure or have any of these negative effects that are often theorised. They are perceived as you know, quote unquote, threatening to, to national identity in ways that provokes kind of a resistance. 


And that's, that's something that of course, visibility is very important for these groups, because it brings them into being, it makes, you know, provides new ways of understanding oneself to many queer people who, who can, who can draw on that visibility to to push for new rights or to be politicised themselves. But of course, that visibility is also you know, fraught, in that it introduces a lot of debate and a lot of counter movements that will respond to it with very different arguments. And that means that it is, you know, we're studying here contentious politics, and social movements, and it's never kind of a uniform or clear path. And I mean, LGBT rights makes that very clear.


Alan Renwick  19:11

Okay, so we've been talking there about the concept of visibility. And I guess the other thing that I was struck by when you were introducing your, the thesis of your book at the start, though, was that you emphasise the role of transnational factors, rather than just domestic factors. What is the international relations aspect of of all of this?


Philip Ayoub  19:29

Well, yeah, I mean, the the international relations, and the actually research in international licence generally has, has really not paid much attention to LGBTI rights. And, you know, given that it's seen as a, as a weak group in world politics, but what is really fascinating is that, you know, as the so called weak group has, has had tremendous effects on on world politics in terms of the norms that it has has spread to many states. And it also features, you know, beyond my work in, in a central way in a lot of geopolitics that IR scholars are quite interested in when it comes to, you know, war and security. 


And I think, I mean, just to give one example, that we see everywhere, when it comes to the current war in Ukraine that the way that Vladimir Putin has, since 2004, been talking about the need to protect Ukraine or quote, unquote, protect Ukraine from so called 'gayropa', which is this word for the European Union or Western Europe. And that to keep it in its sphere of of influence, that would protect so called traditional values. This has been central to that conflict, and it keeps emerging, again, in kind of justifications for the latest intensification of that war earlier this year, and LGBT scholars have been really writing about that issue for over a decade. And it's something that has, you know, even in these, you know, the most mainstream foci of International Relations scholars, played such a central role in kind of constructing that, that conflict, and many others like it, where LGBT rights are seen as this type of foreign imposition that states need to defend in a way that's really interesting for research. And, of course, you know, political elites are are doing that I think strategically, and exploiting this issue for their own political game, but it is featuring centrally in those kinds of conversations.


And I guess that takes us on to your recent paper called 'not that niche', for you looked at the role of LGBT research within political science as a whole. And you argued that LGBT research and researchers don't have the status that they should have, essentially, in political science. Do you want to just develop a little bit further your argument for saying that?


Yeah, sure. I mean, that paper grows out of a lot of conversations with colleagues who've been really kind of charting forward this new area on LGBT politics within political science, and it's a relatively new area, you know, many of our main conferences only had sections dealing with these issues. In the last, you know, 10 or 15 years. And outside of rare exceptions, we still see that you know, hiring committees that most institutions really fail to single out LGBTI work. And it's very rare that you see a job description, if at all, ever looking specifically for such expertise. And professors working in these areas are also largely absent from many of the field's leading graduate programmes, which also shapes training for new faculty that, that might be able to address these questions down the road. 


And, you know, the many other examples like that, that we, this work is really on syllabi, which means that students also and allies that don't, that they don't see themselves in the field, or they receive signals early on the political sciences and isn't a space for them. And, and, of course, then also, many of the fields top journals, which have only in the last year started really featuring work that deals with LGBTI politics. And I'll note that, you know, when I was a grad student, the APSR, which had managed to go about 100 years without ever, ever going to LGBT people's experience at all is politics, which is really puzzling to me, given how political this movement and the issues affecting people who identify that way are. I mean, if we think of the gains that movement made in the pre war period, the pre Second World War period to having those movements extinguished by national socialism, to having those movements reappear, right, alongside civil rights in the post war period, to have, you know, the HIV AIDS crisis. So if we think about nationalism and politics, religion and politics, public health, I mean, there, I really think a lot about HIV AIDS crisis and political science really left that health crisis to a lot of other fields to study even though it was really precisely the failure political institutions that also exacerbated that health crisis for so long. 


But then when we had COVID, which was a, you know, health crisis that also affected or that was seen, of course, HIV affects all sorts of populations, but it was seen early on and perceived as a as a gay issue. But with COVID, we have had, you know, every political science journal raising a special issue on that, on that, on that health crisis. And I think we would have learned a lot had we thought about the politics of public health related to LGBT people in the decades before. So these are, you know, some of the issues that I think we still see in that field and we're starting to see a shift in political science in many countries. A younger generation of scholars that is really energised, and I think, a pushing for change in innovative ways. But it remains quite overdue. And and there remain substantial liabilities to doing this work in many countries. I mean, I think we have to keep in mind that, you know, even the European Union, a country like Hungary has, you know, basically shuttered gender studies work, which means that there's actually scholars who work on LGBT rights in the European Union who are in exile within, within the EU, working in other countries, which is really, really troubling, and shows that we still have really a long way to go. And I think there, there needs to be much more attention. I think that attention will also benefit many aspects of theorising in our in our field.


Alan Renwick  25:49

But you're arguing this isn't just an issue in Hungary, it's not just an issue in the past. It's an issue that remains present today within our discipline in the United States in the UK and other European countries?


Philip Ayoub  26:01

Absolutely, I fully agree with that. And the the gains that we've seen are, I think, just small steps in the right direction, but it has a very long way to go before we see, you know, top graduate training programmes, having faculty working on LGBT politics in them, which would then meet the demand that many of our students have. I mean, it's it's undeniable that a lot of students are rightly asking institutions to teach them about issues that they see, have transformed their own lives or, or the lives of people around them. And they, in real time, and they want a lot of answers to those, those questions.


Alan Renwick  26:47

Great, we should talk a bit about your current research. So we've been talking about the research that you've done in the past. But what are you working on at the moment?


Philip Ayoub  26:56

Well, I'm always working on a future many things. But one of the larger projects that I'm working on which I would be happy to talk to you about it. It actually started when I was a postdoc at UI in 2013. So it was actually before this book that I mentioned before was out. But it was already a time where we saw the intensification of backlash, which of course always existed, but started peering more at the international level. And you saw a lot of powerful states. Here again, namely Russia came to mind. In in that period, when I was developing this project, to start actively blocking some of the newfound successes the LGBT rights movement had made at and doing so at the international level. And I met Kristina Stoeckl, at the UI when I was a postdoc there. And she was, or she is a sociologist of religion. And we applied a grant for a grant together that we won. And Kristina is the PI on that grant. And I work on the this LGBTI stream, which looks at global resistances to LGBTI rights. And we basically been working on the other side of the coin of my Cambridge book, which is to argue that, you know, there's a lot of pushback globally against gender, gendered movements, including women's movements and LGBTI movements. And they work in a similar way. So they, they can also rely on transnational advocacy groups, for example, the World Congress of Families, and they can rely on the support of IOs, like the Catholic and Orthodox Church and the support of powerful states, like the Russian state or, or other states, like Hungary, and Poland, that can really peddle a kind of narrative around so called gender ideology that is presented as a threat to traditional values in countries all over all over the world. 


And this, you know, this is this means that there's these coalition's that also span the global north and global south, and that really, that really diffuse new kinds of policies around religious freedom or rights of the family or rights of the child that are presented as in contradiction to LGBTI rights. And of course, a lot of LGBT movements don't feel like the the rights that they asked for, should contradict those other kinds of rights, but they have been constructed in a way that presents them that way. And that is that is having an effect in world politics. We see changes, actually, just this week, if you read the newspapers yesterday, you will have read that Russia has expanded its so called anti gay propaganda ban. That was a law in 2013 that had banned the exposure of minors to any LGBTI expression. But now that has been extended to all adults, which effectively entirely removes any kind of LGBT activism from the public sphere. 


And that kind of policy has taken hold in many different places. So we, we saw Hungary pass a law like that, in 2021, which someone like somewhat like it's Russian counterpart, before it also seeks to ban LGBT discourse from the public sphere. And also, like the Russian example problematically links it to paedophilia. And so these, you know, these kinds of movements are having an effect in world politics and explains a lot of the polarisation we see around these issue, issues. And that's, you know, something that Christina and I have been trying to contribute to with our research and we've been working on a book for all of these years since where we've interviewed a lot of the key organisers in that anti gender mobilisation and we call them political, politicised moral conservative actors. And we've tried to, you know, expand on IR theories around the boomerang and spiral models of human rights diffusion to argue that these models often theorise a process where contestation appears only in the domestic space, but we should really, you know, think that it works more like a double helix spiral where there's contestation at all levels at the local, at the domestic, and at the international level. And that means that, you know, different transnational advocacy networks have to respond to contestation in, in all venues, you know, at the, at the UN, at the European Court of Human Rights. And they also in that response are changing how they frame their issues. And, and it's a constant space of interaction, and that also has tangible effects on the states that they're working in. 


And, and this work is, you know, dovetailing a lot of great work that we've seen come out in recent years by, for example, David Paternotte and Roman Kuhar have worked extensively on gender ideology with their colleagues, in a very important book called 'Anti gender mobilizations in Europe'. Christopher Velasco, who's a former student of mine, now, Professor at Princeton, who's doing really incredible systematic work, looking at the effects of these networks in different states, depending on which you know, which network the anti gender one or the LGBTI one has more, has more power. So it's, it's in a way, you know, an extension, an unfortunate extension, you could say, of some of the older research in the book that was really, you know, that was actually also quite cautious about its optimism, but was also acknowledging that we'd seen some positive change. And, and now, you know, working more on on the reality that these tools that lead to that change are available to all sorts of movements, even ones that that might might introduce a more challenging experience for LGBTI people.


Alan Renwick  32:56

I'm fascinated to know more about the double helix model. Unfortunately, we're running out of time now. So we'll have to invite you back on when that book is published. But just before we finish, I'd really like to just explore a little bit, the kind of practical implications of this, I guess, particularly for movements are campaigning for these rights around the world. And the trans rights movement is particularly facing contestation at the moment and facing this kind of backlash that you were talking about. Are there any lessons from your work about how the trans rights movement can best promote its objectives in in light of the kinds of reactions that it is seeing around the world?


Philip Ayoub  33:40

Yes, thank you so much for the opportunity to talk about about trans activism, which is very important, and unfortunately, very timely in the sense that it's also such a targeted aspect of LGBT rights mobilisation, I think it's fair to say, the most targeted aspect. Of course, a lot of what I talked about earlier, when we talked about LGBTI rights, it is a you know, there's a lot of intersectional divisions between groups there and a lot of the rights that had been won have affected white upper middle class gay men, for example, more than other minorities in other marginalised groups under that umbrella. 


And so here, you know, when we think of trans activism, which has always stood alongside LGBT rights and solidarity have often put their issues have often been put to the side, including by LGBT movements. That said, there are many of the, you know, many of the lessons of the book apply here centrally, we've seen the transnational organising of trans activists both in the LGBTI umbrella, but then also separately, because there's been rightly the complaints amongst trans activism that oftentimes LGBTI organisations add the 'T' and the 'I' but don't really deal with trans issues and intersex activists might say the same about intersex issues. So trans activists have also developed international advocacy, transnational advocacy groups like Transgender Europe, which is a group based out of Berlin that does a lot of work, tracking movements towards trans people across different countries, lobbying, IOs, lobbying, other LGBTI and international NGOs to address specific issues that affect trans people. 


And so, and we've seen, you know, in the last 10 years, some of that has worked quite well, we see a lot of gender recognition bills being introduced in many countries across the world, including, you know, more progressive forms of them that rely on self identification. And so, there there has been, you know, some positive change due to this similar kind of activism. At the same time, you know, as you rightly point out, trans groups have been among the most targeted by the opposition that I spoke about before. And while I don't really see you know, especially as a cis man myself of giving advice to how trans activists should do their their work, or strategize, I'd really like to point out one thing that is, I think, applies to this whole conversation that I haven't mentioned yet is that there is always an assumption that this contestation and the response to it is a response to something that the LGBTI or the trans movement did specifically, that could have been done better or a reaction to it, when, indeed, we have to keep in mind that a lot of research shows that a lot of this a lot of political, homegrown transphobia is in fact pre-emptive, that a lot of political elites realise that these issues can be galvanised for their own political gain. 


And so a lot of times, there's not even a clear request or or an attempt to be visible by a, a trans movement in a in a country where the political elite will still, you know, weaponize those issues and make it a major political issue. And that goes back a little bit before to your question about visibility, and how it can have different impact effects depending on who is in control of that visibility. 


So I think in trans activism, there's been a lot of important developments that have produced positive change in some countries. But it has come with a really intense backlash everywhere. And that's something that I, you know, witnessed very much in my former country in the United States, where the it has become a key issue for the Republican Party that has really focused on trans issues. And unfortunately, it's one that seems very prevalent in the UK, and maybe even more so since arriving here, where this issue is really debated also, in academic institutions, where trans people are somehow presented as their rights somehow defecting from from other rights, which is, I think, logically quite difficult argument to make but one that that I've been confronted with a few times since arriving.


Alan Renwick  38:05

This is definitely a conversation that we must continue Philip, it's been fantastic to have you on the podcast. And we're delighted to have you as part of our department as well. So welcome to UCL and we look forward to welcoming you on to the UCL Uncovering Politics podcast once again.


We've been discussing Philip's book 'When states come out: Europe's sexual minorities, and the politics of visibility' published by Cambridge University Press in 2016. And his recent article, 'Not that niche: Making room for the study of LGBTIQ people in political science' published this year in the journal, European Journal of Politics and Gender. And we've also been talking about Philips forthcoming book which, Philip, I didn't actually ask you. When can we look forward to your next book?


Philip Ayoub  38:51

That one should be out at the end of next year. And it's my co-authored book with Kristina Stoeckl.


Alan Renwick  38:56

And that's, that's when hopefully we'll have you back on to the podcast. 


Next week, we'll be starting a new occasional series of more biographical episodes of UCL Uncovering Politics. We'll be joined by Marc Stears, Professor in the UCL Department of Political Science and Director of the UCL Policy Lab, to discuss his remarkable life as a political theorist, speech writer to Ed Miliband, think tank chief, and a bridge between the worlds of academia and policymaking. And what is driving his work in the Policy Lab today. 


Remember to make sure you don't miss out on that or other future episodes of UCL Uncovering Politics, all you need to do is subscribe. You can do so on Apple, Google Podcasts or whatever podcast provider you use. 


I'm Alan Renwick. This episode was produced by Conor Kelly and Eleanor Kingwell Banham. Our theme music is written and performed by John Mann. This has been UCL Uncovering Politics. Thank you for listening.