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Policy brief highlighting how and when to research LGBTQ people in conflict

In June of this year Victor Madrigal-Borloz, the Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, developed a report on the Gender Theory. The UN Gender Theory report was delivered to the Human Rights Council at its 47th session.

Included in the report is input offered from over 500 individuals and groups including a letter from the Centre for Gender in Politics. The central recommendations offered to inform this Gender Theory report are now available to read as a Centre for Gender in Politics policy brief including key recommendations.

The recommendations draw on Jamie J. Hagen’s research on Queering the Women, Peace and Security agenda focusing on LGBTQ organizing and responding to queer experiences in conflict-related environments. The key themes addressed in the policy brief including the challenges for confronting the patriarchal, homo-,lesbo and transphobic violence of ‘gender ideology’. A central component of the recommendations including the need to learn with and from LTGBT people living in conflict-related environments.

As more researchers recognize the need to include attention to sexual orientation and gender identity in research in conflict-related environments, the following recommendations can do so in a way that centers LGBTQ people in the process. Read the recommendations as an excerpt below and the full ‘Minimizing protection gaps for LGBTQ people living in conflict’ policy brief.

Where and how to collect data on SOGI in conflict-related environments

Some ways researchers, policy makers and actors can address the lack of data about SOGI when doing gender work in conflict-related environments include:

  1. Work with local LGBTQ organizations and actors in developing and implementing gender research while doing ethical research in fragile and violent conflicts. This will require being creative and responsive to the needs of the communities you are working with about funding, research methodology, timelines and publication. Challenges may include finding responsive ways to include people who may not be able to physically attend interviews or workshops as well finding ways to work with those who are doing this work without the official label of ‘LGBTQ organization’ given political, social and funding constraints.

  2. Ask questions to participants/survivors/organizers about sexual orientation and gender identity in data collection. A 2020 report from the Williams Institute offers best-practices advice.

  3. Be intentional and inclusive of LGBTQ individuals so these communities are more comfortable raising sexuality as an important dimension of research about gender in conflict-related environments.

  4. Be explicit about defining gender in a way that also includes attention to sexual orientation and gender identity. Alongside this, be intentional (in writing, in reporting data, in media about the research, in speaking with participants) about being inclusive of those who do not fit into LGBT categories including non-binary and genderqueer individuals.

  5. Translate and support in-country research related to sexual orientation and gender identity led by local civil-society organizations. Even though much of this research is still excluded from many academic and policy spaces, there is extensive in-country and transnational feminist research to consider gender and sexuality in an intersection way beyond limited binary approaches to research.

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