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Same-Sex Marriage and Family from the Perspective of Intimate Citizenship: New Normality or Reproduction of Heteronormativity?

Guest lecture by Tanja Vuckovic Juros

Same-Sex Marriage and Family from the Perspective of Intimate Citizenship: New Normality or Reproduction of Heteronormativity? 

Over the last several decades, there have been tremendous advances in the state of lesbian and gay rights in the Western world, with the rising number of countries also allowing lesbian and gay individuals access to the institution of marriage. While countries that provide same-sex couples with the access to the joint and second-parent adoption and full legal parenthood are still rare, the rights of same-sex families are now increasingly brought up in the debates on intimate or sexual citizenship that discuss the limitations to full inclusion and equality among lesbian and gay individuals. Still, same-sex marriage and family remain a deeply controversial and polarizing societal issue – opposition to these developments, for example, is the focal point of numerous anti-gender mobilizations that are calling for the protection of traditional, heterosexual marriage and family, and that are growing in strength, both in Europe and beyond. But, the access of lesbian and gay individuals to the institution of marriage also creates unease among some members of queer community and among some queer and feminist scholars who see it as an assimilationist and a heteronormative development, ultimately robbing the queer community of its emancipatory potential, and serving as another exclusionary instrument of queer individuals. In this lecture, I will discuss these issues drawing on the data from the TransNorm project on the perception and reception of same-sex marriage in different socio-institutional contexts. Informed both by the life stories of LGB migrants who are married or raising children with a same-sex partner in Belgium and the Netherlands and by the accounts of their parents living in Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries with a constitutional protection of heterosexual marriage, I will show how the patterns I identified in my research related to the negotiation of same-sex marriage and non-heterosexual reproductivity can be further situated into a wider intimate citizenship debate on the consequences of the inclusion of queer individuals into the mainstream institutions.