asylum, migration, sexuality, Human Rights, European Convention on Human Rights, European Court of Human Rights, citizenship, European Court of Justice, Gender identity, queer
In her first monograph, European Sexual Citizenship: Human Rights, Bodies and Identities, Ammaturo offers us an authoritative and fluid analysis of the intersections between citizenship, human rights and sexual minorities. The book has a strong Foucauldian flavour, exploring the ways in which power relationships are produced in this context. Ammaturo crafts a smooth flow of ideas, arguments and sources that address in a comprehensive fashion how these intersections need to be unpacked, dissected and brought to daylight for everyone’s benefit. And she does so in an accessible and ambitious way, without ever becoming simplistic or obscure – no mean feat.
Ammaturo’s starting point is Europe as a continent defined as ‘an aspirational entity and symbolic space of belonging’ (p. 1, original italics). In this space, gender and sexual minorities (referred throughout the book as LGBTQI persons) arguably play a crucial role in the definition of ‘European identity’ and ‘European Citizenship’ and contribute to Europe having increasingly adopted a ‘symbolic position of catalyst for social change’ (p. 2) for these minorities. Both human rights and citizenship frameworks and discourses have contributed to these developments. Ammaturo is keen to explore the grey areas in these developments and unleash the potential for radical transformation of current constraints on the citizenship and rights of gender and sexual minorities. To do this, Ammaturo chooses the Council of Europe – and the European Court of Human Rights (Strasbourg Court) in particular – as the context in which a ‘European sexual and gendered citizenship’ can be tested and put to its limits. In doing this, Ammaturo offers particular attention to a specific group within the diverse gender and sexual minorities that exist: LGBTQI asylum seekers and refugees.
In this review essay, I will explore some of the book’s key arguments and touch on some differences of opinion. Perhaps, these differences are mostly the result of different disciplinary backgrounds: while Ammaturo is fundamentally an international relations and social sciences scholar – thus perhaps more concerned with broader policy and institutional mechanisms – I am fundamentally a lawyer – thus more inclined by training to concentrate on particular policymaking areas and require strong evidence to substantiate final conclusions. This review essay will thus reflect the challenges faced by all of us academics in the field of sociolegal studies and interdisciplinary research more generally.