They Hate Our Freedoms: Homosexuality and Islam in the Tolerant West

  • Roderick McGlynn


In the April 2012 elections, the National Front took almost 26% of the vote from gay Parisians—ten points more than their heterosexual counterparts—after promising to defend gay citizens from the threat of a homophobic Islam. This is part of a pattern across the West, where the language of liberalism and of tolerance is used to further decidedly anti-liberal ideas. This trend is a new retelling of a story as old as the West itself, one which uses sexuality to construct a culturally inferior ‘Orient’ and to recreate the East/West binary which has long been a fundamental trope of Western imperialism. This chapter begins with an exploration of Western narratives of progress and goes on to explore how discourses of tolerance towards homosexuality are used across the world to construct and shape the boundaries of belonging between East and West. The binary between homosexuality and Islam forms a key part of this discourse in the West in the years after 9/11, where the trope has been successfully used to shore up support for nationalist political movements with decidedly illiberal aims.


Occidentalism Tolerance Illiberalism Orientalism 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Roderick McGlynn
    • 1
  1. 1.University of St AndrewsSt AndrewsUK

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