Queering Women, Peace and Security

This work considers how the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda can better include LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender and queer) voices in gender, peace and security initiatives. Central to including lesbian, bisexual and transgender women in WPS is confronting heteronormativity and cisprivilege.

Research Findings

After 20 years of advocacy and policy action related to the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) architecture, the continued silence about homophobic and transphobic violence targeting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) individuals in conflict-related environments is alarming.

Those vulnerable to insecurity and violence because of their sexual orientation or gender identity remain largely neglected by the international peace and security community. This neglect is in part the result of heteronormative assumptions in the framing of the WPS agenda. The goal of this article and ongoing research agenda is not only to point out this silence but also to propose ways in which a queer security analysis can address and redress these silences in policy through paying attention to the damaging role heteronormativity and cisprivilege play in sustaining the current gap in analysis of gendered violence.

A queer theory analysis reveals a wide spectrum of identities that do not fit neatly into a binary conception of gender restricted to exclusive categories of male/female or man/woman. This article reviews the policy implications of excluding sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) against LGBTQ individuals from policy implementation and NGO monitoring of the WPS agenda.

Because LGBTQ individuals are under constant threat in many places, viewing the shifts in insecurity for this population in conflict-related environments through a gender lens offers a significant contribution to how policy-makers understand human security more broadly. Understanding what drives violence against individuals marginalized for their sexual orientation and gender identity will also shed light on the larger question of how SGBV operates in conflict


NGOs should be wary of cissexism and heteronormative assumptions in their crucial monitoring work on the implementation of the WPS documents. One way to address this would be to invite LGBTQ organizations to the table to help develop indicators in a way that also captures homophobic and transphobic violence, in order to meet the security needs of all of those most vulnerable to SGBV.

Key Recommendations

1. Include LGBTQ people in developing, implementing and monitoring Women, Peace and Security projects.
2. Define women and gender as two distinct terms.
3. Expand indicators monitoring WPS implementation to also include attention to sexual orientation and gender identity.
4. Collect disaggregated data about LGBTQ individuals living in conflict.

Implementation Examples

The Colombia peace building case has proven an important example of including LGBTQ people in peacebuilding. LGBTQ organizations were a part of the gender subcommittee, working directly with Women, Peace and Security initiatives. You can read more on it here.

Methodology

These conclusions were based on a discourses analysis of the UN Security Council Women, Peace and Security (WPS) resolutions and WPS implementation documents.

Core Concepts

LGBTQ – Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer. Q allows for the inclusion of those questioning their gender identity or sexual orientation as well as a broader community of allies invested in recognising the rights of non-heteronormative individuals. Nevertheless, the LGBTQ acronym is a predominantly West-centric description.

Cisprivilege – The privilege enjoyed by individuals who identify with the sex/gender they are assigned at birth.

Heteronormativity – Heteronormativity is the world-view within which heterosexual relationships are the preferred or normal orientation.

Limitations

These conclusions were based on a discourses analysis of the UN Security Council Women, Peace and Security (WPS) resolutions and WPS implementation documents.