Assimilationism, Sexual Nationalism, and the Backlash Against Gender and Sexuality

  • Paul Mepschen orcid logo


Fifteen years ago my co-authors and I wrote an article discussing the politics of sexual nationalism in the Netherlands (Mepschen at al., 2010). We argued that gay and lesbian emancipation had come to center almost solely on the political idea of the “integration” of alleged sexual and religious others into the Dutch moral community. We pointed out that the Dutch case was exemplary of wider European developments. In various European countries we have witnessed complex transformations in the relationship between the nation and the question of sexual democracy (Fassin, 2012). Lesbian and gay rights and discourses have been weaponized to frame Western Europe as the “avatar of both freedom and modernity” (Butler 2008, 2) and depict its Muslim citizens and others with a migration background as backwards and homophobic. In the words of the queer theorist Jasbir Puar (2007), who coined the term ‘homonationalism,’ gay rights have been recast as an “optic, and an operative technology” in the production and disciplining of Muslim Others (See also Rahman 2014.) Cases of homophobia among Muslim and migrant citizens are highlighted, treated as archetypal, and cast within Orientalist narratives that underwrite the superiority of European secular modernity. Homophobia is increasingly represented as peripheral to Western European culture (Mepschen 2017). As I see it, we still live in the same historical moment: the notion of sexual nationalism is more relevant than ever. But at the same time, things are changing. Before we get to that, a short overview of what has been discussed in the last fifteen years.

How to Cite:

Mepschen, P., (2024) “Assimilationism, Sexual Nationalism, and the Backlash Against Gender and Sexuality”, DiGeSt - Journal of Diversity and Gender Studies 11(1), 14-20. doi:

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Published on
24 Jun 2024