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Death-squads contemplating queers as citizens: what Colombian paramilitaries are saying

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Colombian right-wing paramilitary forces aligned with the state and leftist guerrilla groups are associated with homophobic and transphobic attacks. However, the most extreme accounts of violence are attributed to the former group. Sexual and gender minorities are victimized in the ongoing internal conflict in which armed actors use attacks as a form of communicative violence meant to discipline the civilian population. At the same time, Colombian lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) communities are making significant advances in gaining recognition of their human rights. This article explores the space where the advance of LGBT rights confounds reactionary homophobic beliefs of illegal right-wing armed groups. I consider how concepts such as ‘nation’ and ‘citizen’ shape the discourse of paramilitary forces in their account of their group's homophobic violence. Special attention is paid to the logic provided by two informants, former paramilitary members themselves, regarding the conditions under which right-wing paramilitary groups would be obliged to recognize the rights of sexual and gender minorities as citizens. The article concludes with a discussion of how the development of a sexual citizenship discourse, in place, may serve to disrupt extreme violence against sexual and gender minorities in the context of militarization and armed conflict.
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Keywords: Colombia; LGBT; LGTB; ciudadanía sexual; homophobic violence; paramilitares; paramilitary; queer; sexual citizenship; violencia homofóbica

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Geography, York University, 4700 Keele Street, Toronto, ON,M3J 1P3, Canada

Publication date: March 3, 2016

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