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In this Authors’ Workshop in September 2024, scholars will explore the intricate dynamics between same-sex marriage and migration. In an era where the social significance of marriage is under scrutiny, this workshop aims to address tensions and interconnections between same-sex marriage, migration, and the politics of belonging. We seek to establish a new research agenda to deepen our understanding of these complex issues and their broader implications for sexual citizenship.

In an era where the social significance of marriage is under scrutiny, marriage has emerged as a platform for migrants and LGBTI+ individuals to assert their rights. However, governmental responses to these assertions vary. While many countries have expanded their marriage laws to encompass same-sex couples and protect their families, they have also imposed restrictions on cross-border marriages, such as income thresholds, integration requirements, and age limits, aimed at curbing marriage migration. This dual development reflects a contradictory approach to marriage, ostensibly inclusive towards LGBTI+ individuals and their families but exclusionary towards migrants and their families. These represent two facets of the politics of belonging in which liberal democracies are increasingly invested, intersecting in the regulation of marriage migration for same-sex couples.

The legal recognition of same-sex marriage in numerous countries worldwide has not only redefined the legal concept of marriage, with significant implications for sexual citizenship, but has also reshaped the landscape of family migration, granting marriage migration rights to same-sex spouses. The traditional paradigm of a male breadwinner and a female dependent, which has implicitly informed the design of family reunification policies in Europe and elsewhere, is now being challenged by the migration of same-sex couples through formal family reunification routes.

Migration through same-sex marriage assumes global significance as marriage often serves as one of the few viable avenues for legal migration to the Global North, particularly for those from economically disadvantaged backgrounds who are excluded from other mobility categories. The legalization of same-sex unions has, therefore, not only extended marriage rights but also opened up a previously unavailable route for migration for same-sex couples.

In preparation for a Special Issue, this authors’ workshop aims to address these tensions and explore the interconnections between same-sex marriage and migration. The goal of the Special Issue is to establish the groundwork for a new research agenda that promises to deepen our understanding of the intricate dynamics surrounding same-sex marriage and migration with broader relevance for the politics of belonging and sexual citizenship. The workshop brings together scholars who investigate the implications of the legal recognition of same-sex marriage on the state’s efforts to regulate migration through family regulation, as well as authors examining how the legal recognition of same-sex unions has led to new mobility patterns and novel ways of doing family.