Cleansing the Caliphate: Insurgent Violence against Sexual Minorities

Citation:

Tschantret, Joshua. 2018. "Cleansing the Caliphate: Insurgent Violence against Sexual Minorities." International Studies Quarterly 62 (2): 260-73.

Author: Joshua Tschantret

Abstract:

Why do insurgents target certain groups for extermination? Despite a great deal of attention to the targeting of civilian ethnic minorities, comparatively little scholarship exists on insurgent violence against sexual minorities (lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transsexual individuals). This article maintains that the decision to target sexual minorities follows three distinct logics: two strategic and one ideological. First, insurgents face an incentive to outbid rivals by targeting sexual minorities when homophobic violence is politically and socially legitimated. Second, territorial control creates an incentive for insurgents to signal their ability to selectively punish, which they can accomplish through homophobic violence. Third, revolutionary ideologies provide legitimation for exclusionary violence in the pursuit of transforming society. Statistical analysis of insurgent violence against sexual minorities from 1985 to 2015 lends strong support for these arguments. Process tracing of the spread of violence against sexual minorities in Iraq and Syria clarifies the strategic causal mechanisms. When progovernment militias targeted perceived homosexuals with impunity, antigay violence was adopted by insurgent groups seeking to legitimize their claims to power; violence then quickly spread to competing insurgents. Two additional cases from Latin America demonstrate that ideology plays an important role in influencing which groups embrace homophobic violence even under these strategic constraints.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Conflict, LGBTQ, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Militias, Sexuality, Violence Regions: MENA, Americas, South America, Asia, Middle East Countries: Colombia, Iraq, Peru, Syria

Year: 2018

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