From Pariah to Priority

How LGBTI Rights Became a Pillar of American and Swedish Foreign Policy

By Elise Carlson Rainer

Subjects: International Relations, Lesbian / Gay Studies, Sociology, Women's Studies, Cultural Studies, General Interest
Series: SUNY series, Studies in Human Rights, SUNY series in Queer Politics and Cultures
Hardcover : 9781438485799, 400 pages, November 2021
Paperback : 9781438485782, 400 pages, July 2022

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Table of contents


1. Introduction: The Genesis of LGBTI Diplomacy and Reshaping International Relations

2. The Incorporation of LGBTI Rights into US Foreign Policy

3. Sweden's Pioneering Role in LGBTI Diplomacy

4. Uganda's "Kill the Gays" Law: A Global Sensitizing Event

5. Theoretical Framework of LGBTI and Human Rights Diplomacy

6. Conclusion: LGBTI Diplomacy and Policy Recommendations

Appendix 1: Interviews
Appendix 2: Participant Observation

Incorporates a unique diplomatic, insider perspective to explain the unexpected incorporation of LGBTI rights into American and Swedish foreign policies.


From Pariah to Priority gives a unique, insider perspective that explains the unexpected incorporation of LGBTI rights into the United States and Swedish foreign policies. From original data, case study analysis, and interviews with high-level officials within the State Department, Swedish Foreign Ministry and international institutions, former diplomat Elise Carlson Rainer provides insights from leaders responsible for shaping emerging global LGBTI policies. The research findings highlight the advocacy process of reforming US and Swedish foreign policy priorities to include LGBTI rights, shedding light on how normative values evolve in foreign affairs. The book examines Sweden as the first country to implement a feminist foreign policy and commence formal LGBTI diplomacy. Through this lens, Rainer contextualizes the diplomatic precedent of revamping foreign assistance to Uganda when lawmakers there proposed a death penalty law for homosexuality. Scrutinizing effective tactics for advocacy to influence foreign policy, From Pariah to Priority explores not only current debates in the area of gender and sexuality in foreign affairs, but also offers pragmatic policy recommendations for civil society organizations, foreign policy leaders, and human rights practitioners.

Elise Carlson Rainer is an Affiliate Assistant Professor at the University of Washington and Assistant Professor at American Public University, after having worked over a decade at the US Department of State.