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Queer Frontiers: Queer Citizenship

Over the past thirty years, there has been considerable progress in the formal rights, visibility and social participation of queer people across the UK. From key legal reforms to increased public knowledge, lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer and intersex (LGBTQI) individuals have an arguably stronger claim to equal citizenship than at any other moment in British history.

In recent years, however, with the rise of anti-gender and anti-trans narratives, scholars and social commentators have increasingly interrogated the substantive meanings of queer equality and queer inclusion, asking whether formal policies to enhance LGBTQI rights have materially improved the well-being and lived experiences of queer people in this country.

A central pillar in this process of rethinking must be the enquiry: who have been the beneficiaries of movements of LGBTQI rights in the United Kingdom? While high-profile reforms, such as the introduction of same-sex marriage, Legal Gender Recognition and increased adoption rights, feed into narratives around an ‘arc’ of queer progress, too many LGBTQI people remain shut out from full citizenship in Britain.

In their fourth Network event, GW4 Queer Frontiers will host a workshop on the topic of Queer Citizenship in contemporary UK society. Bringing together scholars, activists and advocates, the event will ask participants to engage with two core questions:

  • Are there LGBTQI people and groups in the United Kingdom who still do not enjoy full citizenship because of their sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression or sex characteristics?
  • Where LGBTQI people have achieved greater rights and social participation in the UK over the last 30 years, what (if any) compromises have they been required to make in terms of expressing their sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and sex characteristics?  

The Network's aim is to ask who has been left behind by the modern movement for LGBTQI rights, and to reflect upon whether the successes of that movement – where achieved – have required queer people to compromise how they understand and express their gender and sexuality.

As part of the event, the group will be inviting stakeholders from across queer civil society, with a particular emphasis on local and community groups in the South-West and Wales. By connecting academic and civil society communities, they hope not only to map the lived-experience of citizenship for queer people in the UK, but also to identify what (if any) role the academy can play in documenting, analysing and resolving gaps where they exist. For additional details about the structure of the workshop, please see the Proposed Programme below.

Registration: Please register for the event via this form

** Note – For attendees from the University of Bristol, University of Bath, University of Exeter, and Cardiff University (GW4 Network Universities), Queer Frontiers can cover the cost of your travel to the event. Please indicate your precise need for travel on your registration form.**

Proposed programme: 

10:00 Registration

10:30 Welcome

10:45 Session 1 - Ice-Breaker

11:00 Session 2 - Identifying Gaps in Queer Citizenship 1: Guided Discussion

A guided discussion on four key themes of queer citizenship (queer families, queer children, queer asylum and queering the binary), with invited contributions from civil society and academic participants. Attendees will be encouraged to ask questions, share experiences and offer reflections in response to the interventions delivered by speakers.

12:50 Lunch

13:50 Session 3 - Identifying Gaps in Queer Citizenship 1: Network Expertise

A open (moderated) session where attendees will be invited – drawing upon their own research and lived experience – to highlight and discuss additional areas where queer people remain outside the scope of full citizenship in the United Kingdom. 

14:50 Session 4 - Queer Citizenship: What Role for the Academy?

A final session – having regard to discussions across the day – on the potential intersections of civil society and the academy, asking whether and how academics can support the work of queer civil society and whether academic research can enhance our tools to advocate for a more substantive and full queer citizenship.

15:30 Conclusion

About the Organisers

The new Queer Frontiers research community intends to draw together ECRs working on issues related to minoritized sexualities and genders. Through events engaging with multiple different stakeholders, we will bring together vested individuals to discuss what the next frontiers of queer knowledge will be. In doing so, we hope to chart exciting new areas for future study, as well as defining some methodological approaches that can most benefit the study of LGBTQ+ issues. You can find more information about the community on the GW4 website.

University of Bath
University of Bristol
Cardiff University
University of Exeter