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In the last two decades, many nations have adopted “gay reparations,” or policies intended to make amends for a history of discrimination, stigmatization, and violence on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. The United States, however, has been reluctant to embrace any form of gay reparations, making the country something of an outlier among Western democracies.
Professor and author Omar G. Encarnación joined us for a presentation, in conversation with CEO of Epiphanies of Equity LLC ChrisTiana ObeySumner, to share takeaways from his book, The Case for Gay Reparations. Beyond making the case for gay reparations in the US, Encarnación explored three big questions: why, after centuries of attempts to marginalize, dehumanize, and even eradicate LGBT people, are governments coming around to confront this historical legacy?; how do we make sense of the diversity of gay reparations being implemented by governments around the world?; and what would an American policy of gay reparations look like?
Drawing upon the rich history of reparations to confront the legacies of genocide, slavery, and political repression, he argued that gay reparations are a moral obligation, intended to restore dignity to those whose human rights have been violated. He examined how other Western democracies notorious for their repression of homosexuals–specifically Spain, Britain, and Germany–have implemented gay reparations, from a formal apology to financial compensation, to the erection of monuments to the memory of those who have suffered. Encarnación invited us to consider that while there is no universal approach to gay reparations, foreign experiences reveal that it is never too late for countries to seek to right past wrongs.
Omar G. Encarnación is Professor of Political Studies at Bard College, where he teaches comparative politics and Latin American and Iberian studies. He is the author of Out in the Periphery: Latin America’s Gay Rights Revolution and Democracy without Justice in Spain: The Politics of Forgetting, and has written for The New York Times, The New York Review of Books, The Nation, Foreign Policy, and Foreign Affairs. He is the recipient of awards and fellowships from the Fulbright Program, the Ford Foundation, and the National Research Council, among others.
ChrisTiana ObeySumner (they/them) is a Black/Indigenous, Queer, Non-Binary, and Multiply disabled person. They are a community organizer and activist, and CEO of Epiphanies of Equity LLC, a social equity consulting firm that particularly specializes in social change, intersectionality, antiracism, and disability justice.
Buy the Book: The Case for Gay Reparations (Hardcover) Elliott Bay Books