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- Author: Koen Slootmaeckers x
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LGBT rights have become increasingly salient within the EU enlargement process as a litmus test for Europeanness. Yet, they are also increasingly subject to contestation. To analyse the symbolism of LGBT rights in the EU enlargement process and its impact on LGBT politics in candidate countries, Coming in presents a novel relational and transnational conceptualisation of the Europeanisation process. Empirically the book analyses the promotion of and resistance to LGBT equality norms in Serbia’s EU integration process. Through a critical analysis, Coming in demonstrates that the EU enlargement process has created the opportunity for Serbia to politicise LGBT rights for its own goals and engage in, what this book has labelled, tactical Europeanisation. The book demonstrates how candidate countries can instrumentalise EU identity markers for their own political goals, undermining the impact of reforms on the ground. Overall, Coming in demonstrates the need for a more critical analysis of the politics embedded in the EU enlargement process that goes beyond institutional changes to included specific transnational configurations of politics and the complex (negotiated) outcomes they produce. In doing so, it raises critical questions about what we consider progress and the role of legal and institutional change within it. Rights without material change for people remain empty, make-believe signifiers of progress, as progress in law without a change in their lived experience remains hypothetical.
This chapter presents an in-depth analysis of Belgrade Pride between 2000 and 2015. It argues that the organisation of Belgrade Pride has predominantly been a product of particular configurations of domestic and international politics, in which the context of Serbia’s EU accession process has played an important role with diverging effects. Three phases are identified, which together present a story of engagement and disengagement of various political actors throughout the fifteen-year history of Belgrade Pride. Although it is a common opinion among activists and observers of LGBT rights in Serbia that Belgrade Pride happened because of the EU accession process, the chapter counters such assertions. And though it is undeniable that the EU and the accession process have played a key role in the three ‘successful’ Prides in 2010, 2014 and 2015, it is argued that a myopic view of these three Prides obscures the fact that the changing EU–Serbia relationship within the accession process has equally contributed to the reasons why Pride was banned for three consecutive years. Finally, the chapter argues that the return of Belgrade Pride is better conceived of as, what the monograph labels, ‘tactical Europeanisation’ – i.e. a performative act to communicate the readiness to Europeanise by aligning oneself with certain ‘European norms’, while disengaging and undermining with the underlying principles of the norm at the domestic level.
This first empirical chapter presents the adoption process and the implementation of the Serbian anti-discrimination legal framework between 2001 and 2015. It provides an overview of how Serbia’s rapprochement with international society and its European integration process has led to the adoption of different legislation prohibiting discrimination and hate crimes. It is argued that there were three distinct phases in the adoption of the anti-discrimination framework in Serbia, each with particular configurations of domestic and international politics, and it has been these configurations that have been an important explanation for the observed outcomes-in-process. The first phase (2001–05) is characterised by Serbia’s initial democratisation and limited political attention to anti-discrimination principles. The second phase (2005–09) sees the politicisation of LGBT issues, as well as the adoption of the anti-discrimination law following a pro-European political shift. The final phase is characterised by the continued expansion of the anti-discrimination framework as tactical Europeanisation. Overall, the chapter demonstrates the importance of a non-EU centric approach to the analysis of the Europeanisation of the anti-discrimination policies with regard to LGBT rights. It is argued that the different phases in the process and the respective outcomes-in-process are the results of the changing relations between the different actors in the transnational policy field as well as the intertwining of different policy fields. Highlighting the centrality of the agency of domestic actors, the chapter also argues that conditionality is better conceived of as a facilitator rather than a driver of change.
In the last few decades, LGBT rights have increasingly been used as a measure of modernity and what it means to be European. Yet, such practices have not been without contestation and political struggles. This chapter provides a background to LGBT politics in Europe, with particular attention to the EU enlargement process. Based on the observation of continued political contestation around LGBT rights globally as well as within the European context, and the limited scope of the EU’s competences, the chapter introduces the book’s aim of disentangling the symbolism of LGBT rights in the EU enlargement process by focusing on the promotion of, and resistance to, LGBT rights within it. Thus, by considering the international context of homonationalism, the chapter argues that one must move away from a classical approach to Europeanisation in which the impact of the EU on a third country is examined, and introduces the need for a dynamic and relational conceptualisation of the EU enlargement process in which norms are inherently contested, and normative struggles between the EU and candidate countries must be resolved in order to advance the political integration process. In doing so, the chapter introduces the central research question of the book: How do the EU and a candidate country negotiate normative tensions in relation to LGBT rights which have been created as part of the overarching political integration process? And what political outcomes does this process produce?
If we are to conceptualise the Europeanisation process as multilayered normative struggle, what then are the normative struggles underpinning the relation between the EU and Serbia? What Othering mechanisms are at play and how do they potentially interact? In order to answer these questions and provide the political background for the research and arguments of the book, this chapter presents the core elements that constitute the multilayered normative structure that shape the sexual politics of Serbia–EU relations. In a short overview of the evolution of the EU enlargement process, the first section demonstrates how EU policy changed from promoting peace and democracy to an increasing focus on human rights (including LGBT rights). This shift in policy is also reflected in the EU’s Othering mechanisms, in particular those employed to reinforce the (at times conflicting) EU identities based on either promoting sustainable peace or the promotion of human rights. The second part of the chapter presents two of the main hegemonic struggles within Serbia. Here, the point of departure is Serbia’s involvement in processes of nation-building as well as a process of reintegrating within international society following the democratic revolution in 2000, with special attention given to Serbia’s victimhood complex (especially in relation to Kosovo) and the gendered and homophobic nature of nationalism in Serbia. Overall, the chapter argues that the Othering mechanisms described for both the EU and Serbia can be classified along a normative/value-based axis and a security/interest-based axis, which both result in different coexisting and/or clashing identity positions.
Based on the observation that the EU enlargement process has undergone fundamental changes to highlight to increasingly focus on promoting human rights and democratic values to candidate states, the chapter argues that updated theoretical and conceptual tools are needed to analyse the process. The chapter first reconceptualises Europeanisation via enlargement as a process of negotiated transformation in which EU policies and norms are (re)defined, negotiated and transformed with both sides making compromises to further political integration. Next, the chapter presents the theoretical framework that allows for a more critical analysis of the civilizational politics embedded in the EU enlargement process that goes beyond institutional changes to include an analysis of transnational configurations of politics and the complex (negotiated) outcomes they produce. It argues that a relational and transnational approach to Europeanisation has multiple advantages over existing theories. These advantages relate to 1) the logic of relationality which helps to overcome the duality between the logics of consequences and appropriateness, 2) the formulation of outcomes-in-process which recognise feedback loops within the process, 3) the relationality of policy fields, and 4) the recognition of the transnational nature of policy fields which allows for analyse new phenomena such as tactical Europeanisation. The chapter finishes with an analytical framework which draws on the existing empirical findings and the new theory to develop a typology of outcomes-in-process that can inform empirical analyses into the Europeanisation of values and norms.
This chapter analysis the implementation of anti-discrimination legislation and its consequences for lived experiences. Building on the existing Europeanisation literature which has highlighted EU practices, and domestic institutional and political barriers as key explanations for limited implementation of new laws, the chapter argues that these are insufficient explanations to fully grasp why the anti-discrimination legislation remains weakly implemented. The chapter challenges the overly institution-focused analysis of the Europeanisation of fundamental rights. With its implicit assumption that (formal) compliance with EU rules and adoption of institutions eventually leads to social change, such institutional analysis ignores broader processes of social change. As such, the chapter takes a societal approach in its detailed analysis of the implementation gap of the Serbian LGBT-related anti-discrimination legislation. In particular, the chapter argues that the social environment in which these laws operate creates its own barriers for individuals to exercise their rights. Indeed, in the case of anti-discrimination legislation, the social environment has shown to constitute an attitudinal panopticon where people who are different from the norm self-regulate their actions to avoid becoming too visible, which would lead to increased discrimination. The lack of social change becomes a disciplining environment in which people whose rights have been violated are prevented from seeking justice out of fear of further and more severe violations of their rights.
Although it has been recognised that Belgrade Pride forced the topic of LGBT issues into the public debate and forced the state authorities to recognise the presence of LGBT lives, this chapter demonstrates how the history of Belgrade Pride has contributed to a transformation of Pride’s politics in Serbia. Overall, the chapter argues that the international context in which Belgrade Pride has been taking place has had several (unintended) consequences on the meaning of Pride for the local LGBT population. Contextualising the political meaning of Belgrade Pride in the EU’s approach to Pride – i.e. a litmus test for fundamental rights and the rule of law – it becomes clear that the inconsistency of EU pressure and the associated discontinuity of Prides has negatively impacted Pride’s potential to create visibility of LGBT people. The Pride bans, and the fact that international actors did not question the conditions in which Pride takes place, not only anchored Belgrade Pride in the realm of human rights, but also contributed to a dislocation of Pride, away from local LGBT people’s grievances. As such, the chapter argues that Belgrade Pride was voided of its transformational politics, while the Serbian state, in turn, stepped into the political vacuum to appropriate Pride. It used the event to promote its European character internationally, while domestically, the government uses Pride to emphasise the state’s power and sovereignty, while delimiting the possibility of creating meaningful visibility of LGBT people.
This chapter situates the results of the book in the wider context of the EU enlargement process and international LGBT politics. The chapter first summarises the key findings of the empirical material – namely that the EU enlargement process should be thought of as a political process in which the combination and imbrication of domestic and international politics produce outcomes that the dominant approaches in the Europeanisation literature cannot fully explain. In short, the domestic responses to EU enlargement are not simply a product of domestic hegemonic struggles as these do not occur in isolation but are the result of the specific configuration of the different scales of the political integration process and their associated politics. It is further highlighted that EU policies and/or norms cannot be viewed as given (or fixed), but that it is through their particular usage within a transnational context, and the interaction between domestic and international politics, that the meaning of these policies and/or norms are negotiated, (re)defined and reinterpreted. As such, the argument is made for a more critical analysis of the civilizational politics embedded in the EU enlargement process: that future research must go beyond institutional changes to included specific transnational configurations of politics and the complex (negotiated) outcomes they produce. Next, the chapter situates these findings beyond the European context and reflects on their wider implications on the global politics of LGBT equality and how international actors can engage with local struggles for LGBT equality.