Ostseegespräch 5.6.12: Nationality and sexuality: homophobic political discourse and the ‘national threat’ in contemporary Latvia

The talk seeks to understand why attitudes towards homosexuality in Latvia appear to be more intolerant than in all other EU member states. It is argued that, while the impact of religion, the legacy of communism and post-communist transition have all played a role in shaping attitudes towards homosexuality in Central and Eastern Europe, these factors do not explain sufficiently the divergence among post-communist states and, in particular, do not account for Latvia’s extreme position. While acknowledging that intolerance towards non-heteronormative sexuality cannot be explained by a single factor but is the cumulative effect of a range of social influences, this study argues that homosexuality is particularly reviled in Latvia because it has been constructed discursively as a threat to the continued existence of the nation in its desired ethnic form and to the core values defining Latvian national identity.

Dr. Richard Mole is Senior Lecturer in Poltiical Sociology at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University College London and author of „The Baltic States from the Soviet Union to the European Union. Identity, Discourse and Power in the Post-Communist Transition of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania“ published by Routledge Curzon in 2012.

Ort und Zeit: Dorotheenstr. 24, Haus 3, Raum 3.231 „Henrik Steffens“; 5. Juni 2012, 19.00 Uhr.