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Book description

In the last two decades, the LGBT movement has gained momentum that is arguably unprecedented in speed and suddenness when compared to other human rights movements. This book investigates the recent history of this transnational movement in Europe, focusing on the diffusion of the norms it champions and the overarching question of why, despite similar international pressures, the trajectories of socio-legal recognition for LGBT minorities are so different across states. The book makes the case that a politics of visibility has engendered the interactions between movements and states that empower marginalized people - mobilizing actors to demand change, influencing the spread of new legal standards, and weaving new ideas into the fabrics of societies. It documents how this process of 'coming out' empowers marginalized social groups by moving them to the center of political debate and public recognition and making it possible for them to obtain rights to which they have due claim.


‘This innovative book breaks new ground in the study of human rights, international relations, social movements, and identity politics. Phillip Ayoub provides a deep and rigorous multi-method analysis of a critical issue at the frontiers of the struggle for human dignity.’

Alison Brysk - Mellichamp Professor of Global Governance, University of California, Santa Barbara

‘A revolution has swept across the countries of Europe, transforming LGBT persons from criminal degenerates into upstanding and even celebrated members of society. But the revolution has not changed all countries equally. Some have moved quickly to grant LGBT citizens the same rights and protections accorded to their fellows. Other countries have showed greater reluctance, and even now fall short of equal incorporation. Accounting for the overall trends and especially the enduring variations are Phillip Ayoub's central tasks, and he fulfills them brilliantly in this masterful and incisive book.’

David John Frank - University of California, Irvine

‘When States Come Out is a masterful analysis of the domestic and transnational currents of Europe’s LGBT politics. Based on a rich trove of new qualitative and quantitative data, Ayoub’s compelling argument shows how and why the politics of visibility is at the center of the human rights and dignity movement.’

Peter J. Katzenstein - Walter S. Carpenter, Jr Professor of International Studies, Cornell University

‘This brilliant study provides a compelling answer to the question of what drives policy success of LGBT movements in particular and of social movements more generally. Phillip Ayoub anchors his empirically rich, meticulously researched, and theoretically sophisticated argument in the idea that norm visibility is the key to policy success. This book is a must-read for scholars and activists interested in how marginalized groups gain agency and generate political change.’

Sabine Lang - Jackson School of International Studies, University of Washington, and author of NGOs, Civil Society, and the Public Sphere (Cambridge, 2012)

‘Why, like their counterparts in the United States, have some European Union states advanced LGBT rights much more rapidly than others in recent years? In When States Come Out, Phillip Ayoub marries a sophisticated theoretical framework to a wealth of empirical data to advance a compelling argument about the importance of transnational norms and the domestic politics of visibility to shaping real progress on the rights of sexual minorities. This is an important contribution not only to the literature on LGBT politics, but also to that on comparative social movements and the politics of social change more broadly.’

Robert Singh - Birkbeck, University of London

‘When States Come Out sheds new light on long-standing questions about the conditions under which weak, marginalized, and stigmatized groups are able to bring about political and social change. Focusing on the inconsistent diffusion of rights and recognition for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people across European Union states, Phillip Ayoub draws on a wealth of evidence to demonstrate the important role of individual and collective visibility in provoking both recognition of but also resistance to justice and equality for LGBT people. His analyses lead to important and often surprising insights about the sources and consequences of both movement victories and setbacks, offering reasons for optimism at the same time as they deliver sobering reminders about continued persecution and barriers to justice.’

Dara Z. Strolovitch - Princeton University

‘There are many well-trained scholars of social movements; many others who are experts on European transnational politics; and still others who specialize on the LGBT movement. But there is no one who has encompassed all three more elegantly than Phillip Ayoub has done in this richly documented, carefully researched, and intellectually inspiring book. More than a consummate exercise in comparative research, and more than an in-depth inquiry into the LGBT movement in both parts of Europe, it is also a profoundly enlightening inquiry into the factors that produce cultural openness to diversity and those that inhibit it.’

Sidney Tarrow - Emeritus Maxwell M. Upson Professor of Government, Cornell University, and author of Power in Movement (Cambridge, 2011) and The Language of Contention (Cambridge, 2013)

'This is an excellent examination and analysis of what makes the efforts of sexual minorities, and social movements in general, successful or not … Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty.'

W. K. Hall Source: Choice

'More than just a sophisticated case study, When States Come Out is a resource for anyone seeking to promote human rights at the civil society and state levels.'

Source: Ethics & International Affairs

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  • 2 - The politics of visibility and LGBT rights in Europe
    pp 21-52
  • 7 - Visibility in movement and transnational politics
    pp 199-224
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