Sexuality Policy Watch (SPW) launches the third publication of its most recent cycle of transnational analyses on sexual politics that started in 2015.
The first Working Paper titled Sex at dusk and the mourning after: sexuality policy in the United States in the years of Obama, authored by Susana T. Fried and Cynthia Rothschild was published in May, 2018. The in September, SexPolitics Trends & Tensions in the 21st Century: Critical Issues, a first edited volume comprising four articles that examine the intersections of sexuality, gender and rights through a variety of angles such as policy discourses, legal developments and research trends was made public.
Now we present a second Working Paper, titled The Catholic Church's Legal strategies - The Re-naturalization of Law and the Religious Embedding of Citizenship, which is authored by Juan Marco Vaggione and it examines the long-standing and constantly adjusted Catholic Church engagement with the law, as well as with conceptions of citizenship, which is aimed at containing the transformation of gender and sexuality orders.
Sonia Corrêa and Richard Parker
One main theme running through this first edited is the evolving conceptualization and application of sexual rights as derived from the definition adopted at the IV World Conference on Women (Beijing, 1995): the right to a safe and full sex life, as well as the right to take free, informed, voluntary and responsible decisions on their sexuality, sexual orientation and gender identity, without coercion, discrimination or violence. While the concept is not directly addressed in all four papers, as SPW has expressed for many years, abortion and sex work could and should be placed under the sexual rights umbrella.
Juan Marco Vaggione´s critical reflections in this article overlaps in various ways with the analyses previously published. It looks at the intersection between sexual politics and the politics of the religious, with a particular focus on Vatican´s doctrines and political strategies. It provides a number of sharp analytical lenses to charter undercurrents underway that are now sweeping over so many societal landscapes, particularly in the Americas and Europe. This is so because despite many heterogeneities implied in waves of moral conservatism now intersecting with right wing populism, as noted by a number of authors the role played by Vatican in propelling these waves cannot be circumvented, in particular as the mastermind of the anti-gender crusades now escalating in the most diverse settings.
One key aspect examined by the article concerns gender and sexuality legal battles in which, for many decades now, feminists and sexual diversity movements sought to politicize sexuality and extract it from long-standing moral tenets, while conservative religious forces concurrently invested in relation to legislation to “re-enshrine” sex laws in moral terms. Another of Vaggione’s main contribution this realm of analyses is to remind us that to more fully understand the contemporary conditions presiding over these legal skirmishes it is necessary to critically revisit the long history of intertwining between the law and religious morality in Western history.
We dearly thank Juan Marco for generously making possible this excellent outcome.
Sonia Corrêa and Richard Parker
“Sex is always political”, and its politicization involves the continual attempt to draw boundaries between “good” and “bad” sex, based on “hierarchies of sexual value” in religion, medicine, public policies and popular culture. These hierarchies “function in much the same ways as do ideological systems of racism, ethnocentrism, and religious chauvinism. They rationalize the well-being of the sexually privileged and the adversity of the sexual rabble.” But in some historical periods, negotiations over sexual “goodness” and “badness” become “more sharply contested and more overtly politicized” (Gayle Rubin, 1984). (1)
We are living in one of those periods. The ethical and political conflicts that Rubin warned us about, far from being resolved, are more prevalent today than ever—on a global scale. In the current context—with the revival of religious extremisms of all kinds, backlashes against women’s and LGBT movements, the “war on terror” and its rationalization of unrelenting militarism and torture (including sexual torture), US economic and military hegemony (especially with a Christian fundamentalist at the helm), and an atmosphere of unbridled power—the victims are peacefulness, human rights, and environments where people can live full and pleasurable lives.
Sexuality Policy Watch (SPW) is a global forum composed of researchers and activists from a wide range of countries and regions of the world. Launched in 2002 as the International Working Group on Sexuality and Social Policy (IWGSSP), in 2006 the forum changed its name to Sexuality Policy Watch.
Since its establishment, SPW has undertaken a series of strategic analysis devoted to the critical mapping of conditions prevailing in sexual politics landscapes globally and locally. It has also consolidated itself as a credible source of up-dated information on facts, research findings and public debates around a wide gamut of sexual rights areas, such as: abortion, gender-based sexual violence, sex work, LGBTI rights, HIV and AIDS. In 2013, SPW began a cycle of capacity-building programs on the linkages between sexuality research and political change.
SPW Secretariat is based at the Brazilian Interdisciplinary AIDS Association (ABIA).
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