What is it about?

This article is about how we can use both human rights and decolonizing analyses when understanding political claims - and about how human rights and decolonizing analysis addressing histories of colonialism can be reconciled. It discusses two pivotal examples of how lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and other non-heterosexual 'queer' activists in the Global South are using international human rights claims, specifically to win decriminalization of same-sex sexual acts in Belize and Trinidad and Tobago. It looks beyond purely legal analysis of human rights using a sociological perspective.

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Why is it important?

This article discusses two key legal cases by leading LGBTQ activists Caleb Orozco in Belize and Jason Jones in relation to Trinidad and Tobago. Caleb Orozco won a Supreme Court case in Belize in 2016, achieving decriminalization of same-sex sexual acts. Jason Jones won a case in Trinidad and Tobago in 2018 (Jason Jones v. Attorney General of Trinidad and Tobago), similarly achieving decriminalization. However the Trinidad and Tobago government are appealing and the case is heading to the Privy Council, based in the UK, which remains the highest court. The legal and political struggle is thus ongoing, and Jones is publicly campaigning.


In contemporary politics, activism and social analysis there is a problematic division between people who focus only on decolonizing, and people who focus only on human rights. This article offers one unique attempt to discuss how critical social analysis can engage both decolonizing analysis and human rights. It is suggested that key activists like Jason Jones draw on both decolonizing arguments and human rights arguments. The article affirms the agency of LGBTQ activists like Caleb Orozco and Jason Jones in contemporary struggles, and argues social analysts need to recognize the significance of this.

Dr Matthew Waites
University of Glasgow

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Decolonizing the boomerang effect in global queer politics: A new critical framework for sociological analysis of human rights contestation, International Sociology, July 2019, SAGE Publications,
DOI: 10.1177/0268580919851425.
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