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Out and Proud or Out and Disenfranchised? : Brexit and the UK’s LGBTQIA+ community

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Title: Out and Proud or Out and Disenfranchised? : Brexit and the UK’s LGBTQIA+ community
Author(s): Gilray, Claire
Contributor: University of Helsinki, Faculty of Social Sciences
Degree program: Master's Programme in European and Nordic Studies
Specialisation: Social Sciences Study Track
Language: English
Acceptance year: 2021
As an early adopter and promoter of the EU’s human rights policies, the UK can be regarded as a relative bastion of LGBTQIA+ rights. Its further progression to legislate in favour of same-sex marriage confirmed that. But the exit of the UK from the EU has caused a shift in tensions and revealed potential risks for the rights and safety of the UK’s LGBTQIA+ community. Therefore, this thesis investigates in what ways Brexit has impacted the UK’s LGBTQIA+ community. It identifies those impacts by engaging with LGBTQIA+ - focused points of articulation both surrounding the referendum and subsequently, identified via fractures in not only LGBTQIA+ rights but also lived experiences. With a particular focus on the exclusion of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights from Brexit discussions, it then uncovers a lack of media discourse on the potential effects of Brexit on the LGBTQIA+ community, before identifying possible causes for the increase in LGBTQIA+ - related reported hate crimes in the aftermath of the EU referendum. This study progresses those three topics—the Charter, media discourse, and an increase in reported hate crimes—by employing a triangulate approach to both its data and its theory. This thesis combines qualitative and quantitative research, the latter via a constructed dataset of UK media articles to highlight the lack of focus on LGBTQIA+ rights during the EU referendum campaign. It develops a poststructuralist queer discursive perspective to theorise the linkage between the three impacts. It discerns that LGBTQIA+ rights—and, consequently, human rights—in the UK remain vulnerable and at the behest of political motivations. The implications of Brexit for the LGBTQIA+ community already exist, and pose negative outcomes if they are further realised. Any argument that they are not likely to be realised is not enough of a protection for a minority group. This leads to the LGBTQIA+ community being in an abyss regarding any certainty as to the freestanding right to non-discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, and gender identity.
Keyword(s): LGBTQIA+ Brexit queer discourse human rights

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