This edition of GISWatch presents stories from around the world on how the politics of sex and sexual rights activism takes place online. We want to research how generally accepted sexual identities, as well as marginalised sexualities, are expressed, regulated and moralised on the internet. We also want to show how this relates to the threats of surveillance, censorship and online violence.
The eight thematic reports introduce the theme from different perspectives, including the global policy landscape for sexual rights and the internet, the privatisation of spaces for free expression and engagement, the need to create a feminist internet, how to think about children and their vulnerabilities online, and consent and pornography online.
These thematic reports frame the 57 country reports that follow. The topics of the country reports are diverse, ranging from the challenges and possibilities that the internet offers lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LBGTI communities, to the active role of religious, cultural and patriarchal establishments in suppressing sexual rights, including same-sex marriage, to the rights of sex workers, violence against women online, and sex education in schools. Each country report includes a list of action steps for future advocacy.
The timing of this publication is critical: many across the globe are denied their sexual rights, some facing direct persecution for their sexuality (in several countries, homosexuality is a crime). While these reports seem to indicate that the internet does help in the expression and defence of sexual rights, they also show that in some contexts this potential is under threat – whether through the active use of the internet by conservative and reactionary groups, or through threats of harassment and violence. The reports suggest that a radical revisiting of policy, legislation and practice is needed in many contexts to ensure that the possibilities of the internet for guaranteeing sexual rights are realised all over the world.