Monro, Surya, Richardson, Diane and McNulty, Ann (2011) Identity Complexity, Intersectionality and Sexuality: A Headache for Policy Makers? In: Understanding the Social World Conference 2011, 13th - 15th July 2011, Huddersfield, UK. (Unpublished)

UK policy makers and practitioners have to address identity categories in a number of ways. Policy documents relating to the statutory sector, for example health and social care, have routinely included performance measurement indicators which address the extent to which the needs of different populations are met by service providers. The raft of equalities-related legislation which has been introduced over the past few years in the UK has driven this agenda, and statutory sector agencies have responded by developing complex mechanisms for assessing the impact of their activities on different social groups.
This paper addresses a key debate within intersectionality studies, and scholarship in the field of sexuality and gender; the debate around categorisation and anti-categorisation. It does so via the prism of LGBT equalities initiatives in local government. Local government work forms a useful means of addressing this debate, because policy makers are forced to amalgamate individual members of their populations into groups, in order to develop group-based interventions. However, grouping people on the basis of particular social characteristics, such as sexuality, risks erasing the intersectional nature of their identities. We explore the ways in which policy makers grapple with the complexities of LGBT and heterosexual identities, in the context of broader social forces such as heterosexism, biphobia and transphobia, as well as the constraints of the current economic climate. The paper draws on empirical material from a large ESRC funded project.

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