For Warner (1993: xxvi-xxvii) “‘Queer’ gets its critical edge by defining itself against the normal rather than the heterosexual. The political strategies advanced by transnational LGBT rights advocacy have been criticised by a number of queer theorists as pursuing a “politics of normalisation” (Richardson, 2005: 515).Following this line of argument, rather being radically transformative, such policies and rights-based claims are instead viewed as conforming, heteronormative and even homonationalistic (Puar, 2007; Thiel, 2014: online).Particularly since the end of the Cold War, human rights have become an elaborate international project that has ignited both empowerment, alongside deep scepticism and contestation that has become even more pronounced with the promotion of LGBT rights.
Perhaps more significant, however, is that the adoption of a ‘human rights’ rhetoric and consolidation of a seemingly ‘international’ framework in the promotion of LGBT rights highlights the historical absence of LGBT persons from previous conceptions of the human (Butler, 2004). If queers, incessantly told to alter their ‘behaviour,’ can be understood as protesting not just the normal behaviour of the social, but the idea of normal behaviour, they will bring scepticism to the methodologies founded on that idea.” In other words, rather than understanding queer theory and its subsequent politics to be a narrow critique of normative heterosexuality, a broadened conception of queer seeks to contest, challenge and analyse socio-political institutions, political structures, and socio-cultural processes (Valera et al, 2011: 2) in order to understand the various existing formations of power and domination.
In view of this history, queer theorists are profoundly critical of the use of a human rights framework. Thus, in this way queer theories “primarily investigate how queer subjectivities and practices…are disciplined, normalized, or capitalized upon by and for states, NGOs, and international corporations” (Weber, 2014: 597), or in this case, human rights.
There are unusually few criteria for determining when the term is used correctly and when incorrectly – and not just among politicians, but among philosophers, political theorists, and jurisprudents as well.
The language of human rights has, in this way, become debased.” (Griffin, 2008: 14) Human rights have become the dominant paradigm within which moral and legal claims are pursued.
Key to this are the following questions: I will draw principally on queer theory, as well as normative political theory, as a vehicle for critical engagement for conceptualising LGBT rights as Human Rights.
By drawing upon queer theory and its destabilizing social and political critiques, I argue that queer analysis provides important insights into the contradictions inherent not only in LGBT politics, but also the international structure itself, in which the wider human rights discourse is embedded.
They are fundamental norms that protect all persons everywhere from grave political, legal and social violations (Nickel, 2014: online).
They exist in both morality and the real world: in national and international law, in institutions, in the foreign policies of states, as well as the activities of political activists and a plethora of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and networks (Beitz, 2009).
Indeed, the inclusion of sexual orientation and gender identity in various human rights organisations and institutions demonstrates the flexibility and perpetual evolution of the human rights body.
The term ‘sexuality’ encompasses a vast domain, with multiple contested meanings that have mutated and transformed both temporally and spatially.