Experiences of sexual orientations and gender identities during imprisonment: a queer critique on the enforcement of human rights norms in England and Wales, and Italy

Zago, Giuseppe (2020) Experiences of sexual orientations and gender identities during imprisonment: a queer critique on the enforcement of human rights norms in England and Wales, and Italy. Doctoral thesis, Northumbria University.

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This thesis analyses how sexual minorities, transgender and gender non-conforming people negotiate their sexual and gender identities and behaviours within the prison system, looking at the treatment of prisoners in two European jurisdictions, England and Wales, and Italy. Although lesbian, gay, bi, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) prisoners represent a minority among the prison population, their very existence challenges a legal and normative model based on heteronormative, hypermasculine and gender binary foundations.
The research intends to problematise the current legal characterisation of imprisonment as a site of promotion of coherent sexualities and identities by adopting a queer socio-legal approach, in order to examine how State power constructs deviant subjects and makes them invisible. Furthermore, it speculates on how these normative paradigms can be challenged through a process of queering. Particularly, it questions whether international human rights norms as internalised in domestic laws and policies regulating imprisonment can contribute to queer the prison complex, or on the contrary reinforce the perpetuation of exclusionary practices.
By using a qualitative methodology, participants who self-identified as LGBTQ were selected among prisoners located in two penal institutions in England and Wales and three establishments in Italy. The study undertook a comparative analysis to understand commonalities and dichotomies in the interconnection between essentialist, heteronormative policies and the legal construction of the homosexual and transgender prison subject under the umbrella of the international human rights discourse.
Conducting interviews inside multiple prisons revealed that LGBTQprisoners constantly struggle to manifest their sexuality and identity. It showed that the invisibility of the deviant subject is fuelled by discriminatory and unequal organisational strategies only partially tackled by a human rights discourse also in need of queering.
However, participants in the study were able to originate a few moments where their instances were recognised thanks to various mechanisms of resistance that remain largely ignored by the law. This research provides examples of how such practices vary depending on each prison environment, discussing their impact on prison life.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Gender and Sexuality, Prisoners’ human rights, Trans prisoners, LGBTQ prisoners, international human rights law
Subjects: M100 Law by area
M200 Law by Topic
M900 Other in Law
Department: Faculties > Business and Law > Northumbria Law School
University Services > Graduate School > Doctor of Philosophy
Depositing User: John Coen
Date Deposited: 29 Jun 2020 09:53
Last Modified: 04 Jul 2022 10:00
URI: http://nrl.northumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/43593

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