In danger for merely existing – LGBTI in conflict, displacement and peacebuilding by Dr Henri Myrttinen

  • Seminar Room G, Manor Road Building, Manor Road Oxford OX1 3UQ

A light sandwich lunch is provided for seminar participants at 12:50.

Peacebuilding, in its essence, is about building more inclusive and less violent societies, with gender often being one of the most salient factors impacting on social exclusion. Questions of sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) that do not fall into the binary categories of women and men or do not adhere to heterosexual norms have been largely absent from gender and peacebuilding research, policy and programming. 

Based on research conducted in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Colombia, Lebanon and Nepal, the presentation explores how identifying – or being identified by others – as belonging to a sexual and gender minority (SGM), often adds additional layers of vulnerability, precariousness and danger to lives already under threat. While SGM often live in precarious conditions in peacetime, these are exacerbated in situations of violent conflict and displacement. As with other gendered vulnerabilities and power imbalances, pre-existing conditions of discrimination and exclusion are heightened and made more acute in these situations. Due to dominant social norms of exclusion, which can be mobilised in times of conflict and used strategically by conflict actors, SGM are often placed in particular positions of vulnerability. Furthermore, SGM are likely to face exclusion, discrimination and violence not only from armed conflict actors but also from civilians, including close family members. Neither the end of the violent conflict nor an escape from a conflict zone automatically guarantee an end to these dynamics or the multiple dangers that they face. 

Dr Henri Myrttinen, Head of Gender and Peacebuilding at International Alert, has over 15 years of experience working on gender, conflict and peacebuilding, with a particular focus on masculinities. He has worked extensively in different conflict-affected contexts and has also published numerous papers and chapters on various aspects of gender and conflict. He holds a Ph.D. in Conflict Resolution and Peace Studies from the University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, with a thesis on masculinities and violence in Timor-Leste.