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					Sexuality, Policy and Politics

  From Advancing Sexuality Studies:
  a short course on sexuality theory
     and research methodologies
Session                                                              Timing

Introduction                                                        10 mins

1. Sexuality, politics and policy at national level                 75 mins
       Brainstorm                                                   20 mins
       Lecture                                                       5 mins
       Policy group work                                            45 mins
       Policy enforcement                                            5 mins
2. Sexuality, politics and policy at an international level        110 mins
       Lecture                                                      20 mins
       Brainstorm                                                    5 mins
       Case study discussion                                        20 mins
       Hypothetical UN debate                                       65 mins
3. Policy and politics                                             105 mins
        Pre-reading review                                          40 mins
        Policy implementation case study                            50 mins
        Sexuality as political weapon                               15 mins
Conclusion                                                          10 mins
Total:                                                             310 mins
                                                              (about 5 hours)

                  Module aims
• Encourage participants to reflect on what policy is and how
  it works, in both national and international arena
• Critically examine examples of existing policy and politics
  related to sexuality
• Enhance participants’ knowledge of common issues and
  themes which emerge in debates around the policy, and
  politics, of sexuality

               Participants will:
• Develop an understanding of how policies related to
  sexuality are formed, enforced and implemented at a
  national and international level
• Increase their ability to recognise and engage in political
  debates around policies related to sexuality

          Session 1.
Sexuality, politics and policy
     at national level

                   What is policy?
• Set of principles, plans and regulations
• Imposed on a collective
• Codifies and enforces values
   – Often through the granting or restriction of rights
       • Can include legal and social rights, e.g. the right to marry, the right to
         access particular government payments

• Exists at both national and international level

                   Policy agents
•   Yeatman (1998) identifies six types of policy ‘agent’:
    1. Public servants
    2. Service providers (deliver policy on the ground)
    3. Potential and actual users of policy
    4. Those who give evaluative feedback (citizens, lobby groups,
       professional evaluators)
    5. Ombudsmen, administrative lawyers, sometimes the wider
    6. Agencies charged with monitoring and auditing the policy

             Policy & sexuality
Common examples of national policy that regulate and
  proscribe sexuality include:
• Age of consent
   – May be different for male / female, or for heterosexual/same-sex

• Provision of information related to sex
   – ‘Abstinence-only’ school sex education programs

• National HIV strategies and plans
• Policy never neutral; always value-laden                              8
  Policy as contested territory
• Range of individual views and practices
• Range of groups with interests, views, values, resources
  (Waites, M. 2001)
   – ‘Moralists’
       • Put forward more traditional and conservative sexual values
       • Believe in the state’s role in preserving these values
   – ‘Progressives’
       • Critique concept of ‘traditional’ sexual values
       • Sceptical of the state’s role in enforcing these values

           A matter of degrees
• Differences over the extent to which sexuality should be the
  subject of policy
   – Existence of policy could be seen to be violating certain personal
     freedoms …
   – Policy may be required to protect particular freedoms or to restrict
     acts that are widely seen as abusive and destructive
   – Arguments usually centre on degree of freedom vs. restriction

                    Group work
• In small groups, discuss the examples of policy related to
  sexuality from your local context
• Focus questions / develop a case study:                   (25 mins)
   – What values are codified within these policies?
   – Do these policies grant or restrict rights? For whom?
   – Who might the key players have been in formation of these

• Feedback                                                  (20 mins)

           Policy enforcement
• Policy encoded in law can be enforced through prosecution
   – Those who do not comply with particular values in relation to
     sexuality can be criminally prosecuted
• Enforcement through withdrawal of service provider
   – e.g. where service provider does not comply with policy on non-
     discriminatory employment practices
• First step: implementation
   – Requires political will & allocation of resources ($ and human

          Session 2.
Sexuality, politics and policy
  at an international level

          International policies
•   United Nations:
    –   Women’s Conferences
    –   Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)
    –   International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
    –   International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
    –   Convention on the Rights of the Child
    –   Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination
        against Women

               Treaty processes
• UN treaties establish rights and protections as principles
• No internationally binding mechanism with strong
  enforcement processes
• Require national consent to sign and ratify treaty
• Ratification ≠ enactment in national law
   – Argument over sovereignty often used to justify non-enactment
   – US continues to refuse to make national laws which enact the
     International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
       • Received several UN reprimands

  Sexual and reproductive rights
• Slow progress; barriers identified as: (Steans, J & Ahmadi, V., 1995)
    – Social & political power of elite men claiming to represent ‘culture’
    – Adherence by women and men to policies based on idealised
      ‘traditional’ family models
    – Pragmatic alliances of Western-based religious groups & some
      Muslim states in the UN

• Stand-off on proposed UN Declaration on Sexual
  Orientation (2008)
• Sexuality often presented through lens of women’s rights;
  men must be included
          Cross-cultural issues
• Differences in economic development, demographics,
  culture, religion and political views
   – Different levels of education, particularly about sex, reproduction
     and STIs (e.g. Singh, S, Bankole, A and Woog, V. 2005)
   – Lack of use of contraception linked to technology and contextual
     factors, including cultural disapproval (Bongaarts et al. 1995)

• Rejection of perceived imposition of Western values
• Brainstorm:
   – In relation to HIV/AIDS, how might the policy (& values) of one
     country be effectively imposed on another?                  (5 mins)
   Influencing national policy
• Conditional, external funding streams affect policy
• Case study: US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS
  Relief (PEPFAR)
   –   Launched in 2003, topped up to US$50 billion in 2008
   –   Large number of programs funded
   –   Prohibition on activities that promote condoms or abortion
   –   Contradicts national laws that grant right to access condoms &
       abortion, e.g. South Africa (Ghanotakis, E, Mayhew, S & Watts, C. 2009)

• Discuss, review                                                     (15 mins)

          Hypothetical debate
• Debate background:
   – The UN is proposing a new, worldwide HIV program to support
     member governments to respond to HIV, including
     working with affected populations (inc. sex workers, MSM & IDUs)
       • It would consist of agreed targets against a range of indicators, which
         will be measured by the UN

   – The US has already decided that instead of supporting this, it will
     fund a large program of its own addressing S&RH (inc. HIV).
     The program is based on a policy which precludes any funding
     being used to promote abortion or condoms
   – What is the best way forward? (15 mins to prepare 5 min statement)
   – Debate                        (40 mins)
     National vs international
• To what degree should one country seek to enforce its
  policies (and therefore values) on another?
• Complex and contested territory
   – Generally guided by a particular stance on values or politics

     Session 3.
Policy and politics

           Pre-reading review
• Skim reading to refresh key points                         (5 mins)

• Group discussion:
   – What does Yeatman define as the difference between the policy
     process and the political process?
   – What examples does Waites provide of the political process?
     What examples does Waites provide of the policy process?
      • Is it easy to separate the two?                     (20 mins)

• Feedback                                                 (15 mins)

        Policy implementation
• Case study (Han and Beenish, 2009): In-class reading          (10 mins)

• Group discussion focus questions:
   – What national politics were at play here?
   – Why do you think a policy was made on provision of condoms to
     school children, without mechanisms being put in place to ensure
     implementation of this policy?
   – Do you think US policy had an influence here? If so, was it a
     political or a policy influence?                          (20 mins)

• Feedback                                                     (20 mins)

         Serving political ends
• Sexuality often used as a political weapon
   – e.g. to increase or decrease support for policies, people or parties
• Anwar Ibrahim case, Malaysia (Manderson, 2009):
   – Accused of sodomy and corruption in 1998, convicted and
     sentenced to nine years in jail for corruption
   – Sodomy conviction overturned in 2004, accused again in 2008
   – All charges under penal code dating from colonial times
   – Arguments centred not on the policy, but on the alleged act
• Discuss: What has been claimed to be ‘in the public
  interest’ in your context?                                    (15 mins)

• Module aimed to:
   – Encourage participants to reflect on what policy is and how it
     works, in both national and international arena
   – Critically examine examples of existing policy and politics related
     to sexuality
   – Enhance participants’ knowledge of common issues and themes
     which emerge in debates around the policy, and politics, of
• Review activity outputs
• Questions? Comments?
• Module created by:
  – Marina Carman, HIV Consortium for Partnerships
    in Asia and the Pacific
• Short course developed by:
   – The Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and
     Society, La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia

   – The International Association for the Study of Sexuality,
     Culture and Society (IASSCS)

   – With funding from The Ford Foundation
  Available under an Attribution, Non-Commercial, Share Alike licence from
  Creative Commons

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