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Babel in the backland

Gender researchers must get on the field in the gay debate.


[chronicle] Norwegian gay debate is characterized by religious questions and representatives of the Christian right taking a disproportionately large place; that the views and arguments are mostly predictable, whether they come from gay-friendly or gay-friendly debaters; that the number of actors is relatively limited and mostly consists of gay activists, politicians and reactionary Christians; and that gender researchers are largely absent.

I will concentrate on the latest, why and how Norwegian gender researchers must now get on the field and actively contribute to creating a more interesting, relevant and nuanced Norwegian gay debate.


The most startling and depressing thing about today's situation is that we live in a society that places great emphasis on sexuality, but at the same time has such an underdeveloped conceptual and theoretical basis for discussing what we today call sexuality. The public debate almost always moves within predictable conceptual frameworks and on the basis of more or less naïve and unproblematic assumptions about what sexuality is and how sexuality is practiced. Even in the so-called enlightened public, I dare argue that there is virtually no understanding of the historical and culturally conditioned nature of sexuality.

The media in today's Norway is the foremost arena for the spread of homophobia and homonegativity. At the same time, public debate about homosexuality in the media is a potentially important source of dissemination of knowledge from the research institutions to the general public. There are three gay-related debate topics that I see as particularly significant in this regard and where I believe gender researchers can and must make an active contribution.

Adoption debate.

First, we have the fundamentally important debate about the right of gays and lesbians to be considered adoptive parents on an equal footing with all other law-abiding, adult, tax-paying citizens in this society. Gay exclusion from the possibility of adoption is undoubtedly the most hair-raising example of public, statutory discrimination such as. . .

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