On 5.12.2019 Kone foundation awarded Annukka Lahti a grant for her post doc -research project on the separation experiences of of LGBTIAQ+ people. Please read the list of awarded grants here (in Finnish).
Lahti’s post doc research project concentrates on an under researched topic: the relationship break-ups of sexual and gender minorities. According to the demographic research divorce rate is as high or higher among same-sex couples than among other-sex couples. Female couples are likelier to break up than male couples are. Yet, there is a paucity of research on the separation experiences of LGBTIAQ+ persons.
There are some distinguishing characteristics to LGBTIAQ+ break-ups. Non-heterosexual couples’ path to legal recognition have been long and complex. In the long and heated media debate on registered partnership and later on gender neutral marriage law in Finland, same-sex couples’ right to legal recognition was defended by emphasizing their equal worth and similarity to heterosexual relationships within the discourse of romantic love. The long battle for equal rights has placed LGBTIAQ+ people’s relationships under a lot of pressure to succeed and to be as ordinary and happy as possible. It is thus difficult to discuss publicly that problems occur also in these relationships. Consequently, the partners in LGBTIAQ+ relationships might keep silent of their problems. The fear of discrimination from the part of service provides may prevent them from seeking help, for example counselling.
LGBTIAQ+ parented families also face some particular issues in break-up situations. In non-heterosexual families, there are often more than two parents. However, law does not acknowledge all parental bonds in similar manner, which creates difficult circumstances for both parents and children in break-up situations. Gahan (2015) has noted that how LGBTIAQ+ families share custody, is often defined by laws, heteronormative family concepts and biological parent’s status. Because the break-ups are often difficult processes especially for children, it is necessary to investigate in depth the progression of the break-up processes.
Lahti analyses both survey and interview data of LGBTIAQ+ persons who have experienced recent relationship-break up. She explores separation experiences of LGBTIAQ+ persons from an affect theoretical perspective. How do the continuously changing social positions of LGBTIAQ+ persons and their relationships entangle with the affective processes of break-ups?