SMOOTH OPERATORS? - Ambassadors’ Engagement in Pride parades
Abstract: Ambassadors waving rainbow flags participate in Pride parades in many capitals around the world. However, within existing scholarship, ambassadors are dominantly portrayed as facilitative of smooth state relations by acting, speaking and dressing in a discrete and non-confrontational manner and carefully avoiding interference in domestic affairs of the host state. By proposing a theoretical framework of an ideal-typical ambassador, this thesis seeks to study if ambassadors are moving away from the prior diplomatic ideal, or if their participation – even in contexts where LGBT+ rights are highly contentious – in Pride is considered compatible with existing diplomatic norms. To answer this question, the thesis applies a qualitative approach and relies on two kinds of data: interviews with ambassadors and social media communication by ambassadors on Pride parades. Using a comparative case study design, the study analyzes how ambassadors engage in Pride parades in the LGBT+-friendly context of Copenhagen and LGBT+-unfriendly context of Sofia. The findings show that ambassadors dominantly comply with prior diplomatic ideals when participating in Pride parades, but that they also deliberately transgress diplomatic norms. Supporting LGBT+ rights, but not always participation in Pride parades, is seen as a diplomatic responsibility, certainly in EU states that do not fully comply with EU regulations. Their engagement in Pride is, against dominant perceptions, not restricted by the notion of intervening in internal affairs, since within the EU, these rights transcend the confinement of domestic politics.
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