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Coming Out of CommunismThe Emergence of LGBT Activism in Eastern Europe$
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Conor O'Dwyer

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781479876631

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479876631.001.0001

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The Benefits of Backlash

The Benefits of Backlash

The Divergent Trajectories of LGBT—Rights Activism after Communism

1 The Benefits of Backlash
Coming Out of Communism

Conor O'Dwyer

NYU Press

This chapter presents an overview of the wide variation in the politics of homosexuality and the trajectories of LGBT activism in postcommunist Europe since 1989. Against the conventional wisdom that this region is noteworthy precisely for its lack of progress regarding sexuality, this chapter’s historical-comparative perspective reveals examples of surprisingly well-organized and politically mobilized social movements advocating LGBT rights, often in those countries associated with resurgent traditionalism and backlash against transnational rights norms. This variation is puzzling in terms of the predominant “grand narratives” of post-1989 political development, namely, that of weak civil society and that of transnational diffusion and Europeanization through accession to the European Union. A comparative analytical framework is presented to explain how and under what conditions transnational pressures may boost the organizational development of LGBT-rights activism in postcommunist societies.

Keywords:   LGBT activism, social movements, European Union, postcommunism, civil society, Europeanization, transnational diffusion

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