Book Talk: ‘Queer Diplomacy: Homophobia, International Relations, and LGBT Human Rights’

Queer Diplomacy enriches the current literature in international relations, human rights and queer studies by demonstrating how diplomats and advocates work hand-in-hand to promote LGBT rights on the world stage. Dr. Douglas Janoff, a Senior Canadian Foreign Service Officer, uses a reflexive and participatory methodology to demonstrate how efforts to combat homophobic and transphobic discrimination and violence in multilateral processes have triggered conflict and polarization: opposing member states often deploy cultural, religious and moral discourses to minimize LGBT rights as a “legitimate” human right. It is the first study of multilateral LGBT human rights diplomacy viewed from the perspective of its practitioners: diplomats, LGBT activists, human rights experts and multilateral specialists. His research involved participation in UN meetings in Geneva and New York and 29 interviews with diplomats, human rights advocates and experts, and representatives from the UN and other inter-governmental organizations. In his Foreword, Victor Madrigal, the United Nations Independent Expert on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, describes Queer Diplomacy as “a critical reading of the politics of identity” and “a very honest assessment of the ethical dilemmas and pragmatic difficulties” faced by proponents of LGBT rights “when attempting to further that work within the highly politicized and polarized contexts of international diplomacy.”

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Based in Ottawa, Dr. Douglas Janoff is a Senior Canadian Foreign Service Officer, policy advisor, learning specialist, researcher, and subject matter expert in global issues such as human rights, democracy, governance, justice, and regional affairs. His diplomatic career has included postings to Washington, D.C., Kabul, Afghanistan, and Islamabad, Pakistan, with a focus on areas such as human rights reporting, multilateral negotiations, foreign policy development, geo-political analysis and public diplomacy. He is an expert on discrimination and violence against LGBT people: he is also the author of Pink Blood: Homophobic Violence in Canada (University of Toronto Press, 2005).