Cai Wilkinson

Deakin University, Australia

This article explores how “traditional values” are being used by the Russian government to refute the claim that “LGBT rights are human rights” and justify the introduction of anti-homopropaganda laws, and how members of the Russian LGBT community have sought to contest it. Centrally, it traces the development of a discourse that refutes the essentialization of sexual identity and, in doing so, seeks to challenge the focus on individual identity-based rights of contemporary human rights norms. This discursive shift has meant that opponents of the legislation have had to develop contestation strategies that collectively seek to present an alternative interpretation of “traditional values.” The article concludes by considering the implications of the Russian case for human rights norms and for the notion of universal human rights more widely, arguing that it represents a serious challenge to the viability of identity-based LGBT rights claims as a basis on which to advance observance of fundamental human rights due to their homonormativity.