Cooperative Project

“Polarization of Society: The Example of the Expansion of EU Directives on Ensuring Human Rights of Sexual Minorities” (PoSoSeMi)

Funding: German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), Funding Programme for Integration of the Eastern Partnership countries(Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine) into the European Research Area (Bridge2ERA EaP)

Project Duration: December 2020 – November 2021

Applicant/Leadership: Dr. rer. soc. Halyna Leontiy (Univeristy of Göttingen)

Cooperation Partner:

  • Prof. Dr. Mathias Czaika and MMag Manfred Zentner (Donau University of Krems, Department Migration und Globalisierung, Austria)
  • Dr. Ph.D. Sanja Bojanić (University of Rijeka, Center for Advanced Studies Southeast Europe, Croatia)
  • Prof. Dr. Dragana Stojanović (University of Singidunum, Department of Media and Communications, Serbia)
  • Dr. rer. soc. habil. Alexander Shulga (National academy of Science, Institute of Sociology, Kyiv, Ukraine)


This projects aims to focus on the effects of EU Directives on ensuring human rights of sexual minorities (LGBTIQ) and their expansion in the context of the liberalization of sexual cultures and identities – due to the progressing weakening of gender binaries – for the selected European countries Germany, Austria, Croatia, Serbia, and Ukraine. Social and political events prove that the establishment of human rights of sexual minorities, especially with regard to human migration, social change, and the 2004 enlargement of the EU, is not without conflict, but rather creates new lines of conflicts, which lead to protest movements and massive polarization of European societies on various levels. Thus, it constitutes manifold challenges for Europe. The polarizations manifest themselves at the borderlines between “EU/non-EU” “fundamental/liberal”, “tradition/modernity” and many more, which yet have to be researched. Through this transnational research, we want to pursue the question, to what extent these effects of polarization pose a threat to living together in Europe and how we can counteract them. Sexuality is a sphere of life in which people are overwhelmed by situational and ethical complexity coupled with emotional embarrassment, which is why they tend towards naturalization and moralization.

Research shows, that homophobia in particular serves as a symbol for a conscious division of society, as it defends established systems of rule, such as the family. On these grounds the liberalization of sexuality and especially homophobia are specifically politically exploited, which strengthens old lines of conflict and creates new ones. Furthermore, we ask for the sociopolitical, historical, and cultural contexts, in which homophobia is politically used by whom and for what purpose. These effects vary, depending on the region. How are the issues of sexual cultures and identities discussed on a local level? If homophobia, practiced by certain social groups, functions as a symbol of polarization: Where can we find the lines of difference?

To answer these questions, we pursue a comprehensive reconstruction of discourses in the selected countries. Our scientific approaches are a macro-level heuristic analysis (macro-level: country/society, meso-level: social groups/institutions, mico-level: individuals) and a methodological triangulation. The analyses base on the one hand on selected governmental textual documents, on the other hand on semi-structured interviews with both experts and ordinary persons, as well as with people a affected or not affected by sexual liberalization and homophobia. The result of the anticipated research project shall be a country-comparative study, which is a desideratum on the current state of research and thus is an innovative project in several respects.

The aim of the cooperative project is to establish a collaboration of empirical research from Germany, Austria, Serbia, Croatia and Ukraine. To ensure the success of the cooperation, two workshops will be held to explore the research situation in the respective countries and to convey and harmonize the knowledge of methods of qualitative empirical social research. The cooperation thus also contributes to the expansion and strengthening of the European Research Area towards the new EU countries and the Eastern Partnership countries.

At the end oft he 12-month cooperation, an EU joint project proposal is to be designed to clarify the issues of the effect of polarization and functions of instrumentalizing the diversification of sexual cultures and identities as well as the human rights of sexual minorities in the context of social change, migration movements and EU enlargement to the East, and is to be applied for under the HORIZONT EUROPA programme, Work Programme 2021-2022, Cluster 2 „Culture, Creativity and Inclusive Society“.