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Title: Toward positive social change for lesbians and gay men: a human rights approach
Authors: Ellis, Sonja J.
Issue Date: 2001
Publisher: © Sonja J. Ellis
Abstract: Lesbian and gay issues are increasingly being recognised politically and legally as human rights issues. Within psychology, however, they have rarely been explored within a human rights framework. The purpose of this study is to investigate support for and reasoning about lesbian and gay issues employing an explicitly human rights perspective, using a multi-method approach. In order to provide a broad overview of support for and reasoning about human rights among British students, a Human Rights Questionnaire was developed based on existing "homophobia" and "human rights" scales. This questionnaire was completed by 627 students, and subjected to statistical and thematic analyses. This was followed up by six tape-recorded focus groups with students, whose discussions of these issues enabled a more in-depth understanding derived from thematic analyses of their transcribed data. Finally, in order to explore arguments against lesbian and gay human rights, a textual analysis of Hansard and newspaper reports of the Age of Consent debate was perforined as a case study. Findings of the thesis are as follows. First, whilst respondents to the questionnaire support the general principle that a person's sexual orientation should not block that person's access to basic rights and freedoms, they are less willing to extend specific human rights to lesbians and gay men, especially social rights (e.g. right to marry, right to adopt children). Second, although in the focus groups students sometimes employed human rights arguments in relation to lesbian and gay issues, they tended to show initial support followed by an evaluation of potential considerations in extending human rights to lesbians and gay men using arguments which are not rights-based. As the case study also illustrates, when lesbian and gay issues are specifically addressed in human rights terms, they are countered with arguments which are derived from other frameworks (e.g. religious conviction, protection of the vulnerable), rather than with arguments w1iich are themselves rights-based. The findings are discussed with a view to establishing how best to promote lesbian and gay human rights in order to achieve positive, social change for lesbians and gay men.
Description: A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.
URI: https://dspace.lboro.ac.uk/2134/7527
Appears in Collections:PhD Theses (Communication, Media, Social and Policy Studies)

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