Between Representation and Overexposure: Queer Ambivalence Towards Global Healthification

Friday, 20 July 2018: 17:45
Oral Presentation
Po-Han LEE, University of Sussex, United Kingdom
In an era that the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health is considered as a human right, fundamental to the fashioned path of global health governance, this paper explores how the institutional and epistemological apparatuses regarding global health have portrayed sexual and gender minorities and ignored/silenced their health disparities ‘scientifically’ in international fora. This paper begins with an analysis of the WHO Secretariat’s report regarding health-related issues of LGBT persons, which cited an emergent body of literature in both health and social studies, and the relevant meetings held in the Executive Board since 2013. However, there was a disappointing deadlock for many LGBT rights advocates as a result.

Simultaneously, the state-centred LGBT health politics has re-pathologised the precariousness and vulnerability of this population, which is reflected on in this paper through the observations of interactions between intergovernmental organisations and queer activists in East Asia. Some activists from this region are deeply concerned about the representation of LGBT health issues – by means of garbled or biased ‘overexposure’ – on mainstream media and national policies. Meanwhile, for those who do not possess a fixed sexual and gender identity or who are not ‘figured’ for their neglected existence, they are however further excluded by the identity-based narratives, which predominate contemporary LGBT human rights discourses and strategies.

By identifying the ambivalence towards ‘global healthification’ of social problems since 1990s, such an input of queer social health concerns into the realm of global health manifests a form of homointernationalism that potentially harm queer population in local communities by disserving their right to health equity. In this paper, I thus argue that global health policies should recognise the multiplicity of lifestyles without a predetermined judgement, which has limited the understanding of health professionals and policy makers regarding queer population.