Leaving War and the Closet? Exploring the Varied Experiences of LGBT Ex-Combatants in Colombia


Thylin, Theresia. 2018. “Leaving War and the Closet? Exploring the Varied Experiences of LGBT Ex-Combatants in Colombia.” Kvinder, Køn & Forskning 27 (2-3): 97-109.

Author: Theresia Thylin


Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) programmes have been acknowledged as a crucial part of peacebuilding initiatives and the importance of ensuring that they are gender responsive has been increasingly recognized by the international community. However, policy guidance has failed to include ex-combatants who do not conform to a narrow, binary understanding of gender and make no reference to sexual and gender minorities. Similarly, LGBT excombatants have been overlooked by scholars and very little is known of their experiences as they transition to civilian life. This article explores the varied experiences of LGBT ex-combatants who have been part of three different armed groups in Colombia. Using semi-structured interviews with ex-combatants from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the 19th of April Movement (M-19) and the United Self-Defenders of Colombia (AUC), this article shows how DDR processes may generate significant and rapid transformations for sexual and gender minorities. The article also outlines particular challenges faced by LGBT ex-combatants. In conclusion, I argue that policy makers and researchers should incorporate a gender perspective in DDR that moves beyond a narrow, binary understanding of gender in order to respond to the needs, ensure the participation, and protect the rights of LGBT ex-combatants.

Keywords: LGBT, ex-combatants, Colombia, DDR, reintegration

Topics: Armed Conflict, Combatants, DDR, Gender, LGBTQ, Peacebuilding Regions: Americas, South America Countries: Colombia

Year: 2018

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