Under My Umbrella: Allyship and Advocacy From Within the LGBTIQ+Community

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Equality law differs significantly across national, regional and international jurisdictions. However, as a system of law seeking to redress inequality for marginalised and disadvantaged groups, identity is often at its core. This could include the group identity of those discriminated against – women, LGBTIQ+ groups, those of diverse racial and cultural backgrounds, people with disabilities, and others – as well as sub-identities and sub-cultures within those groups.

Human rights discourse and writings regularly consider the concept of positionality: that one understands the world from the position in which they sit. Similarly, there is a significant body of literature and guidance devoted to researching with and about marginalised communities safely, ethically, and responsibly. Positionality and ethical research are concepts often explored from the perspective of a majority group that does not have the same identity as the studied group: for instance, the cisgender heterosexual community when writing on LGBTIQ+ issues. Comparatively less has been written on how these conventions inform human rights research and advocacy work undertaken by those who live within the relevant marginalised community.

In this paper the two authors, who are both LGBTIQ+ people, reflect on their experiences of research and advocacy within the LGBTIQ+ community – especially that work which concerns LGBTIQ+ inequality, and particular LGBTIQ+ identities to which the authors do not themselves belong.

Through an autoethnographic study of these experiences, identities, and values, we posit that those of us within the LGBTIQ+ community are equally bound by ‘best practice’ rules when doing work with and about our own communities. Positionality and ethical research are not matters solely for those outside of disadvantaged groups; those of us within these groups must also adhere. This is especially important in research on equality law, which is inherently identity-driven, intersectional, and structurally embedded.

We argue for a conceptualisation of ourselves as ‘internal allies’ when doing this work. Although we typically think of ‘allies’ of LGBTIQ+ people as those from outside the community who are supportive of us, those of us within the LGBTIQ+ community can –and should – also think of ourselves as allies to each other identity group within our community. In thinking of ourselves as allies, we consider how to best comply with the principles and guidance relating to effective and appropriate allyship, and how we can become better allies in our research and advocacy on LGBTIQ+ inequality. Impactful actions include self-education, consultation, appropriate co-authorship, and platforming more marginalised voices over our own.

We conclude by exploring the obligation inherent in effective allyship, arguing that those of us within the LGBTIQ+ community who experience less marginalisation have a duty to support those who experience more of it. Indeed, though there is much diversity amongst LGBTIQ+ people and their many intersections, we are united by mutual support and an obligation to common advancement of our human rights. It is through such recognition, reiteration, and implementation that we – as community members, allies, advocates, and legal academics – can have the most impact in addressing and redressing structural discrimination against the LGBTIQ+ community.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jun 2023
EventBerkeley Center on Comparative Equality & Anti-Discrimination Law Annual Conference - Utrecht University, Utrecht, Netherlands
Duration: 28 Jun 2023 → …


ConferenceBerkeley Center on Comparative Equality & Anti-Discrimination Law Annual Conference
Period28/06/23 → …

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