Current research focuses on issues of human rights, sexual orientation and gender identity in international contexts, and developing the sociology of human rights. Updates via Twitter @MatthewWaites
Research interests: human rights and global sexual politics; sexualities; gender; sociological, political and cultural theory; lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people; feminist and queer politics and theories; youth and childhood; activism, NGOs, social movements & citizenship; critical analysis in contexts of multi-dimensional inequalities. Interdisciplinary research has contributed to sociology, politics, law, socio-legal studies and history, engaging cultural theory.
Opening plenary, with Professor Christine Delphy, 'Causes Sexuelles: Sexualités et Mobilisations Collectives', international conference, 5-7 June 2014, Université de Lausanne.
A central concern is the contested relationship of the Commonwealth to sexual orientation and gender identity issues, in a context where the British Empire criminalised same-sex sexual behaviour. These themes are explored in the first book on the topic: Corinne Lennox and Matthew Waites, eds. (2013) Human Rights, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in the Commonwealth: Struggles for Decriminalisation and Change (published on a not-for-profit basis by School of Advanced Study, University of London, and available free online; see also Facebook site). The book offers data on 54 Commonwealth states, with detailed discussion of 16 states by activists and academics - and comparative analysis - covering UK, Canada, Australia, Malaysia, Singapore, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, South Africa, Uganda, Malawi, Botswana, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and the Bahamas. It provides the most internationally extensive analysis to date of the global struggle for decriminalisation of same-sex sexual behaviour. The book also seeks - including in my United Kingdom chapter - to document existing critical theoretical analyses of decriminalisation struggles, and suggest their relevance to activism, politics and analysis globally. International organisations providing links to the book include the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA-World), ILGA-Europe, International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC), Association for Women's Rights in Development, ORAM, Commonwealth Writers, the Kaleidoscope Trust ('highly recommended'), Sexuality Policy Watch ('we recommend') and ARC-International ('great book'). National organisations such Stonewall (UK) , Equality Network ('we recommend'), LGBT Youth Scotland, RFSL (The Swedish Federation for LGBT Rights) and J-FLAG in Jamaica have added links; and many others have shared the book via social media such as United Belize Advocay Movement, CAISO , Seksualitit Merdeka, Boys of Bangladesh, Equal Ground and Trevvy.
Forthcoming and Recent Projects:
LGBTI Human Rights Activism and Film is a current project funded by Glasgow Human Rights Network in partnership with Envisioning Global LGBT Human Rights, Document International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival and the Human Rights Consortium and Institute of Commonwealth Studies at School of Advanced Study, with events on Sunday 15 November 2015 at the Centre for Contemporary Arts in Glasgow - and partner events in London. This will involve Professor Nancy Nicol (York University, Canada) showing Envisioning films for the first time in the UK, including No Easy Walk To Freedom on the struggle for decriminalisation of same-sex sexual behaviour in India. Speakers are planned to include activist/lawyer/scholar Arvind Narrain from Voices Against 377 coalition in India and Richard Lusimbo of Sexual Minorities Uganda.
Diverse Identities in Sport is a forthcoming conference on 4th March 2016 organised by LEAP Sports Scotland, in collaboration with the European Gay and Lesbian Sporting Federation (to accompany its Annual General Assembly). I am a participant in the steering group, together with Scottish Transgender Alliance, Sport Scotland, Pride Sports UK and others.
The Present Situation for LGBTI People in Uganda (16 June 2015), seminar with Dr. Frank Mugisha (Executive Director, Sexual Minorities Uganda), with discussant Matthew Waites and Scott Cuthbertson of Equality Network; joint event of Glasgow Human Rights Network and Gender and Sexualities Forum. Audio recording available. On the occasion of Dr. Mugisha being awarded the Honorary Degree Doctor of the University, on Commemoration day at the University of Glasgow; see @GUSociology blog post with pictures, 'Dr Frank Mugisha of Sexual Minorities Uganda event recording published after honouring as Doctor of the University'.
As part of University of Glasgow Commonwealth Games 2014 activities for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games (23 July-3rd August), I collaborated on behalf of Glasgow Human Rights Network in organising the LGBTI Human Rights in the Commonwealth conference, held in Sir Charles Wilson Building at University of Glasgow on Nelson Mandela International Day, 18 July 2014. This free event was a partnership with Equality Network, Scotland's leading LGBT equality and human rights organisation, and with Kaleidoscope Trust and Pride Glasgow; steering group members also included Nigerian activist Bisi Alimi and Frank Mugisha of Sexual Minorities Uganda. See the Glasgow Human Rights Network's LGBTI Human Rights in the Commonwealth conference website, including conference brochure with programme of speakers, and pictures. The conference film can now be viewed as six videos on the GHRN website and Youtube. See also conference report from Kaleidoscope and Equality Network conference pages; and Glasgow Sociology blog posts: 'LGBTI Human Rights in the Commonwealth - A Public Engagement', 30 June 2014; and 'Publicly Engaged @GUSociology: LGBTI Human Rights in the Commonwealth conference on video'. The LGBTI Human Rights in the Commonwealth conference Statement on Nelson Mandela International Day, was approved near-unanimously; I played a key role in drafting this to foreground British colonial laws and address racism and religious discrimination, (see article in The Conversation: 'The Commonwealth can play a role in the worldwide struggle for LGBTI human rights' 23 July 2014).
The LGBTI People of the Commonwealth exhibition, was a project from July 2014 led by Equality Network and funded by Celebrate and Big Lottery Fund - for which I was a steering group member. The exhibition was to recognise the contributions of LGBTI peoples from 53 Commonwealth states, by showcasing these in venues including Pride House Glasgow, in a booklet and on a website during the Commonwealth Games. The exhibition used our book Human Rights, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in the Commonwealth: Struggles for Decriminalisation and Change as a source. Copies were donated to Pride House for visitors (see entry for the Pride House blog).
I am a publicly engaged sociologist who contributes to mainstream public debates, and also to activist/movement debates in counter-publics, as well as having published analyses of the public sphere, NGOs and movements in sexual politics. The UK book launch of Human Rights, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in The Commonwealth: Struggles for Decriminalisation and Change was hosted by Institute of Commonwealth Studies at Senate House in London on 5 July 2013, with speakers including chapter authors Adrian Jjuuko on Uganda and Philip Dayle & Conway Blake on Jamaica (video of Matthew Waites opening introduction to the book: http://www.sas.ac.uk/videos-and-podcasts/politics-development-human-rights/human-rights-sexual-orientation-gender-identit#.Uhkq7cJp1Kk.facebook). A Canadian book launch was held in Toronto on 26 June during Pride week, at the event 'Sexuality Repression and the Law' in partnership with the Envisioning Global LGBT Human Rights project led from York University, involving chapter authors speaking on Botswana and Canada (videos by Prof. Nancy Nicol of Matthew Waites' opening presentation and all speakers: Part 1 http://vimeo.com/70217990 ; Part 2 http://vimeo.com/70371903 ; Part 3 http://vimeo.com/70417403). Further invited speaking engagements in Canada included at Department of Political Science, University of Guelph; on 'Sex City' on radio station CIUT; and at the Glad Day LGBTQ bookstore, Toronto. More recently the book's concluding comparative analysis was presented at the International Association for the Study of Sexuality, Culture and Society bi-annual conference in Buenos Aires, Argentina. In the UK I have engaged in discussion with UK government Minister Lynne Featherstone MP from Department for International Development, and Alistair Stewart, Assistant Director of Kaleidoscope Trust, at a fringe meeting of the Liberal Democrat Party conference on 'LGBT Rights Abroad and in the Commonwealth' - making suggestions about how to change the politics of LGBT human rights in the Commonwealth by bringing voices from the global South to the fore, as the book argues. Academic dissemination in the UK has included a paper at the British Sociological Association conference, an invited keynote for the BSA Postgraduate Forum, and an invited presentation commencing the University of Edinburgh's Sociology Seminar Series 2013/14. Contributing to Policy Scotland (video and podcast introducing the book), I have discussed policy implications of the book internationally. The book's Scottish launch was at the event 'The Family, Sexuality and Human Rights in Global Perspective', hosted by Glasgow Human Rights Network and Gender and Sexualities Forum at University of Glasgow.
Research on human rights in the Commonwealth developed from work concerning India. In January 2008 I was an invited faculty member lecturing at the Sexuality and Rights Alumni Institute, an advanced forum for sexual and reproductive rights practitioners from across India, organised in Khandala (near Pune) by CREA (Creating Resources for Empowerment Action) and TARSHI (Talking About Reproductive and Sexual Health Issues). From this an analysis was developed of the groundbreaking 2009 Delhi High Court ruling which decriminalised adult same-sex sexual behaviour: 'Human Rights, sexual orientation and the generation of childhoods: analysing the partial decriminalisation of "unnatural offences" in India' (International Journal of Human Rights, Vol.14, no.6, November 2010). Following the Supreme Court's reversal of this decision on 11 Dec 2013, to oppose this I have been engaging with mainstream media in India and internationally, for example being quoted in The Times of India and the Wall Street Journal's live blog (12 December): 'India was one of very few examples of states having decriminalized same-sex behavior in the global south. It was a beacon. [...] Section 377 is a legacy of British colonialism'. Simultaneously I am participating in transnational activism via social media such as Twitter, in new ways partly made possible by the free online availability of the Commonwealth book; for example on the Global Day of Rage against Section 377 on 15th December 2013, links to this resource and others (videos, press and journal articles etc) were directly offered to queer activists in India and internationally, via assistance from groups including 377 Global Day of Rage (@377gdr), Genderlog (@genderlogindia) and Delhiqueerpride (@delhiqueerpride), and BritishAsianLGBTI (@BritishAsianLGB). This is exciting because the book is a medium for sharing sociology itself, including social movement theories, the sociology of human rights, and the critical theories of Foucault and Gramsci.
Relatedly over recent years I have been developing research on the sociology of human rights, associated with launching the British Sociological Association's Sociology of Rights Study Group, as Co-Convenor 2009-2014 (with Patricia Hynes, Michele Lamb and Damien Short). This work contributed to the institutionalisation of the sociology of rights through creation of a BSA conference stream addressing rights, a BSA Sociology of Rights study group wiki-website, co-organisation of workshops and co-editing of three special issues of journals: Sociology and Human Rights: New Engagements, special issue of International Journal of Human Rights in November 2010 (also published as a Routledge book, 2011); The Sociology of Human Rights, special issue of Sociology, October 2012; and New Directions in the Sociology of Human Rights, special issue of International Journal of Human Rights in 2012 (also published as a Routledge book, 2013; see 'Publications'). I have also contributed to British sociology on the Editorial Board of Sociology, journal of the British Sociological Assocation (2007-9), for example by proposing the expansion of the International Advisory Board to achieve improved global representation, especially from the global South. I am one of four founding members on the steering group of Glasgow Human Rights Network; and Associate of the Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research and the Institute of Health and Wellbeing at University of Glasgow.
An earlier book The Age of Consent: Young People, Sexuality and Citizenship (Palgrave Macmillan, 2005) has been cited in law reform debates in Canada as well as debated in the UK press, with earlier articles on this theme fed into a Home Office review of sex offences and appearing to influence the form of laws in England and Wales (cf. Chapter 8). Its proposals remain relevant to consider in current UK age of consent debates. The book was discussed by Professor Judith Butler in a Keynote Lecture at the Judith Butler Symposium (video) in Columbia Law School, New York, on 5 March 2010.
Developing future research will focus on deepening analysis of the global queer politics of human rights through further development of themes and theories in the sociology of human rights for that purpose.
My work also contributes to research on LGBTI and queer people's experiences in Scotland, for example through PhD supervision on issues such as transgender experience or LGBTI psychological wellbeing and online experience in Scotland (see 'Supervision'); and by co-hosting and co-organising the second one-day seminar in the Economic and Social Research Council 'LGBT Lives' Seminar Series in Scotland, on the theme 'Place/Space - Global Local' (University of Glasgow, 12 May 2009, co-organised with Ian Rivers, Richard Ward, Kelly Kollman and Jeff Meek). I am a member of the Gender and Sexualities Forum for staff and postgraduate students based in School of Social and Political Sciences, and also participate in the Colonial and Postcolonial Discussion Group.
See the wonderful film 'Its Gets Better - Glasgow University' with LGBTI students and staff voices.
Please direct media enquiries initially to University of Glasgow Media Relations (tel. 0141 330 3535; firstname.lastname@example.org).
- Interviews include: BBC Radio 4 'The World at One' with Martha Kearney discussing Tom Daley, coming out and sexual or romantic identities (4 Dec 2013); CIUT radio station, 'Sex City', Toronto, Canada, discussing LGBT rights in the Commonwealth (25 June 2013); BBC Radio 5 Live interview with Kate Silverton discussing homophobia and hate crime (1 November 2009); Gaydio on LGBT Human rights in the Commonwealth (16 July 2014); BBC Commonwealth Voices Radio (21 July 2014).
- Authored newspaper/online articles include: The Herald, on Nelson Mandela's role in gay liberation (7 Dec 2013); The Independent; New Law Journal; The Conversation.
- Quoted from interview by Wall Street Journal in 'India "Was a Beacon" for Gay Rights, Till Today' following India's Supreme Court ruling to re-criminalise same-sex acts as 'unnatural offences' (12 Dec 2013). Also quoted and discussed on this ruling on 12 December by The Times of India; Zee news; Sahara Samay; Business Standard; and World Latest News.
- Quotation/discussion in newspapers including: The Scotsman, The Daily Telegraph, The West Australian, The Scottish Sunday Mirror, The Sunday Herald.
- Quoted in SCOTSGAY article 'LGBT People of the Commonwealth' March 2014, for Glasgow Human Rights Network, announcing international LGBT human rights conference on 18 July at University of Glasgow, for Commonwealth Games.
- Quoted in National Children’s Bureau journal Children and Young People Now.
- Quoted and discussed on websites including The Sociological Cinema, Gscene.com and Britske Lisky (in Czech Republic; 12 Dec 2013).
Recent and forthcoming conference and seminar presentations, and public speaking events
17/18 January 2014: 'The Same-Sex Marriage effect in human rights politics in the Commonwealth', invited presentation at seminar From Civil Partnership to Gay Marriage 2004-2014: Interdisciplinary Reflections, co-hosted by Birkbeck Institute for Gender and Sexuality/Birkbeck School of Law/Kent Centre for Gender, Sexuality and Law. Birkbeck, University of London.
23 January 2014, 5.00-8.00pm: 'The Family, Sexuality and Human Rights in Global Perspective'. Joint book launch at University of Glasgow hosted by Glasgow Human Rights Network and Gender and Sexualities Forum, chaired by Vikki Turbine (Politics) with three speakers from School of Social and Political Sciences: Kelly Kollman, Politics (The Same-Sex Unions Revolution in Western Democracies); Roona Simpson, Sociology (Living Alone: Globalization, Identity and Belonging, co-authored with Lynn Jamieson); and Matthew Waites (Human Rights, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in the Commonwealth: Struggles for Decriminalisation and Change, co-edited by Corinne Lennox). Facebook site for this event.
11 February 2014, 5.00-6.30pm: 'International comparative perspectives on Russia' at 'LGBT equality and the geopolitics of human rights: insights from Russia', seminar of Gender and Sexualities Forum in association with Central and East European Studies and Glasgow Human Rights Network, University of Glasgow.
7 March, 12.00am-1.30pm Protest - LGBT Human Rights in Uganda and Nigeria, The Mound Precinct, Edinburgh - organised by Equality Network. Facebook event. Video - A Message From Scotland to LGBT People in Nigeria and Uganda.
12 March 7.30pm GULGBTQ+ student society, campaigns event - panel on international LGBTQ+ rights, Committee Room 1, Queen Margaret Union, University of Glasgow. Further speakers from UNITY including UNITY LGBT group and asylum seekers from Pakistan and Nigeria.
4 April 2014 Invited paper 'Human Rights, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in the Commonwealth and Global Queer Politics', seminar 'The Global Politics of LGBT Rights, Rules and Responses', Centre for Global Constitutionalism, School of International Relations/Department of Philosophy, University of St Andrews.
28-30 May Orientations and Identities: Sexuality and Human Rights on the Global Stage - workshop (invitation only), Los Angeles, USA. Co-sponsored by Program on Global Health and Human Rights, Institute for Global Health, University of Southern California (USA); La Trobe University (Australia); Williams Institute, University of California Los Angeles (USA); and Occidental College (USA).
5 June 2014: Invited Opening Keynote 'The New Transnational Politics of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, Decriminalisation and Human Rights', Sexual Causes: Sexuality and Collective Mobilization, International Symposium, Association Internationale des Sociologues de Langues Francaise (AISLF) GTO7, Universite de Lausanne, Switzerland.
12 June 2014, 6.00-8.30pm Invited talk 'A Backlash Against Human Rights? Analysing Recent Developments Related to Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity', hosted by Research Group for Law, Gender and Sexuality, Law, Boardroom, First Floor, University of Westminster.Facebook event.
13 June 2014: Invited Keynote 'The New Transnational Politics of LGBT Human Rights: Critical South/North Reorientations’, seminar Campaigning for Change: Sexual Orientations and Gender Identities, Cultural Significance of Place Interdisciplinary Research Group, University of Newcastle, 12.30-5.00pm.
18 July 2014 LGBTI Human Rights in the Commonwealth conference, University of Glasgow. To coincide with the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, I co-organised this event with Equality Network, Scotland's leading LGBT equality and human rights organisation, as a steering group member representing Glasgow Human Rights Network, together with other partners including Kaleidoscope Trust , Pride Glasgow, Nigerian activist Bisi Alimi , Frank Mugisha of Sexual Minorities Uganda. The conference was held in days preceding Pride Glasgow (19 July) and the Commonwealth Games (23rd July-3rd August). Introduction in Glasgow Sociology Blog post 'LGBTI Human Rights in the Commonwealth - A Public Engagement'. Conference updates via Twitter #lgbtihrc , see also #UoGCommonwealth.
22 May 2015 'Queering Genocide', invited paper at Queer/Coercion, joint seminar of (Re)situating Queer Theory seminar series and Critical Sexology seminar series, French Studies, University of Warwick.
For past papers and presentations, see 'Additional Information'.