Homonationalism is the favorable association between a nationalist ideology and LGBT people or their rights.[1][2]

The term was originally proposed by the researcher in gender studies Jasbir K. Puar in 2007 to refer to the processes by which some powers line up with the claims of the LGBT community in order to justify racist, xenophobic and aporophobic positions, especially against Muslims, basing them on prejudices that migrant people are homophobic and that Western society is egalitarian.[1][2] Thus, sexual diversity and LGBT rights are used to sustain political stances against immigration, being increasingly common among far-right parties.[3]

The concept of homonationalism is used to critique the use of LGBT social movements to further ends based in social intolerance, while ignoring homophobia and lack of social equality in Western society as a whole.[4] In this view, equality in Western society is symbolically represented by access to same-sex marriage and heteronormativity, and contrasted with countries without legal recognition of same-sex couples or that criminalize homosexuality, often associating those stances with Muslims.[2] Since developing the concept, Puar has more recently argued that the concept should not be used as an accusation or an identity, but that it is instead a transnational process that represents a historical shift.[5]

Bruno Perreau has criticized the premises of Puar's argument. While agreeing with her critique of nationalist claims among some LGBT groups, he argues that Puar idealizes those she calls the "sexually nonnormative racialized subject".[1] Perreau explains that "deconstruction of norms cannot be dissociated from their reproduction".[6] Jason Ritchie has also critiqued some of the ways homonationalism has been used, especially as a totalizing theory.[7]

Homonationalism and migration

A study of anti-migrant, right-wing populist parties in Western Europe found that despite their prominent homonationalist rhetoric, Dutch populist parties did not attract votes from LGBT voters or a separate sample of those who supported LGBT rights but were anti-migrant. These voters favored the mainstream VVD, which was more moderate on migration. A homonationalist voting effect has been observed in other countries where homonationalist rhetoric is not prominent, including Austria, Norway, Sweden, and Switzerland. Homonationalist rhetoric in right-wing populist parties is not encountered in Central and Eastern Europe where many citizens have homophobic attitudes.[8]

Homonationalism and terrorism

In Terrorist Assemblages, Puar writes that "sexual deviance is linked to the process of discerning, othering, and quarantining terrorist bodies, but these racially and sexually perverse figures also labor in the service of disciplining and normalizing subjects worthy of rehabilitation away from these bodies, in other words, signaling and enforcing the mandatory terms of patriotism" (2007, p. 38). Puar claims that the binary reinforced by the othering involved in the War on Terror together with the othering of LGBT bodies "has rehabilitated some—clearly not all or most—lesbians, gays, and queers to U.S. national citizenship within a spatial-temporal domain I am invoking as 'homonationalism', short for 'homonormative nationalism.'"[1]

Gaetano Venezia III argues homonationalist narratives were demonstrated in response to the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida in 2016 which was the deadliest mass shooting in American history until the Las Vegas shooting the following year. Venezia argues this disregards historical shootings with more victims, "'...including race riots and labor disputes in the early 1900s and massacres perpetrated by the U.S. Army or settlers in the American West.' Thus, describing the Pulse shooting as the worst mass shooting obscures state violence, protects the image of the state, and minimizes or erases the oppression of indigenous people and racial minorities."[9] Venezia argues that the responses to the Pulse shooting strengthen and protect not only the image of the state but its officials. "Police and politicians often get good press by expressing their sympathy and solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community, even as they remain unapologetic and unresponsive in regards to oppressive policies and actions, like the Stonewall riots, abuse of trans folk, and restrictions on LGBTQ+ rights and protections."[9]

Homonationalism and Israel

In a 2011 article, Sarah Schulman argues that the Israeli government, as part of a marketing campaign to depict Israel as "relevant and modern", "harness[ed] the gay community to reposition its global image."[10] Schulman writes that anti-occupation LGBT activists have labeled these strategies as pinkwashing: "a deliberate strategy to conceal the continuing violations of Palestinians' human rights behind an image of modernity signified by Israeli gay life."[10]

Also writing in 2011, Maya Mikdashi states, "Today, the promise of 'gay rights' for Palestinian[s] goes something like this: The United States will protect your right to not be detained because [you are] gay, but will not protect you from being detained because you are Palestinian."[11] Mikdashi argues that pinkwashing

is not primarily about gay rights or homosexuality at all. Pinkwashing only makes sense as a political strategy within a discourse of Islamophobia and Arabophobia, and it is part of a larger project to anchor all politics within the axis of identity, and identitarian (and identifiable) groups. Thus critics of pinkwashing who assume an international queer camaraderie repeat a central tenet of homonationalism: homosexuals should be in solidarity with and empathize with each other because they are homosexual.[11]

Homonationalism and Ukraine

During the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine, members of the LGBT community in Ukraine who support their government's war effort feared setbacks in the progress made since Euromaidan.[12] Political scientist Emil Edenborg invoked the concept of homonationalism in Ukraine and the West as a counterpart to a Russian nationalism centered on traditional values, writing that "Russia’s geopoliticization of gender is mirrored by homonationalist and femonationalist discourses in the West, when gay rights and gender equality are portrayed as evidence of 'our' national superiority vis-à-vis backward Others, whether Muslim immigrants or homophobic Russians."[13]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d Puar, Jasbir K. (2007). Terrorist Assemblages: Homonationalism in Queer Times. Duke University Press. p. 83. ISBN 978-0-8223-4094-2.
  2. ^ a b c Homonationalism, Heteronationalism and LGBTI Rights in the EU. Public Seminar. 31 August 2016.
  3. ^ The Men Who Would Be Queen: France, Le Pen & The LGBT Vote. Archived 2018-07-13 at the Wayback Machine Pride Life. 7 June 2016.
  4. ^ Why Pinkwashing Insults Gays and Hurts Palestinians. Slate Magazine. 17 June 2014.
  5. ^ Puar, Jasbir (2013). "Rethinking Homonationalism". International Journal of Middle East Studies. 45 (2): 336–339. doi:10.1017/S002074381300007X. S2CID 232253207.
  6. ^ Bruno Perreau, Queer Theory: The French Response, Stanford University Press, 2016, 124.
  7. ^ Ritchie, Jason (2014). "Pinkwashing, Homonationalism, and Israel–Palestine: The Conceits of Queer Theory and the Politics of the Ordinary". Antipode. 47 (3): 616–634. doi:10.1111/anti.12100.
  8. ^ Spierings, Niels (2021). "Homonationalism and Voting for the Populist Radical Right: Addressing Unanswered Questions by Zooming in on the Dutch Case". International Journal of Public Opinion Research. 33 (1): 171–182. doi:10.1093/ijpor/edaa005. hdl:2066/219576.
  9. ^ a b "Homonationalism in the Wake of the Pulse Shooting". Center for a Stateless Society. Retrieved 2018-11-25.
  10. ^ a b Schulman, Sarah (November 22, 2011). "Israel and 'Pinkwashing'" (PDF). queeramnesty.ch. Retrieved 2018-12-05.
  11. ^ a b Mikdashi, Maya (December 16, 2011). "Gay Rights as Human Rights: Pinkwashing Homonationalism". Jadaliyya - جدلية. Retrieved 2018-12-05.
  12. ^ Bigg, Matthew Mpoke. "L.G.B.T.Q. activists in Ukraine share the fight against Russia's invasion". The New York Times. Retrieved 17 March 2022.
  13. ^ Edenborg, Emil (March 14, 2022). "Russia's Anti-Gay War on Ukraine". Boston Review. Retrieved 17 March 2022.

Further reading