Our Work – Lectures/Talks – Queer Perspectives on Law 3: Queering the International/Internationalising the Queer
This event titled “Queer Perspectives on Law 3: Queering the International/Internationalising the Queer” was held at the Centre for Gender Studies at SOAS University of London on 28 January 2016.
In 2009 the US Congress passed legislation which expanded federal hate crime law to include crimes motivated by the victim’s gender, sexual orientation or gender identity. While this was heralded by many as a victory for LGBT rights, some queer groups expressed strong reservations, arguing that the harsher prison sentences accorded to hate crimes, grant more power to the prison system, in which trans people, people of colour and poor people, are disproportionally incarcerated. In the same year, when queer activists in Israel criticised the city’s renovation of Independence Park because it destroyed its role as a major cruising area, a gay council member opposed this criticism, pointing to the fact that public cruising areas are a matter of the past. At the same time, the city has been organising pride events annually since 2012, on Tel-Aviv’s gay beach, located just under the park, in a way sponsoring cruising but one that is very different from the more democratised version that used to take place in the park. In 2013, after the legislation for same sex marriage passed in the UK, British Prime Minister David Cameron said he wanted to export gay marriage around the world as part of the “global race” where the UK should export and sell more. But in recent years it has been argued that the growing incidence of homophobic legislation and violence in Africa, is partly a backlash to the spread of same sex marriage recognition and the fear of such demands being made locally, not to mention exported globally.
These stories point to the complexity of what happens when homosexuality shifts from being a phenomenon persecuted or at least marginalised by states, to one that is incorporated into the state or the municipality. When gay activists support legislation that may create more incarceration or support the “gentrification” of cruising, and when same-sex marriage becomes something states want to “export”, possibly at the expense of strengthening the persecution of people who practice same-sex relationship in the global south, can we talk of “gay governance”? Is gay governance similar to “governance feminism” – the hypothesis being that while LGBT groups have been more successful in achieving more equality through legislation and litigation in some countries, gay governance is rather more apparent in the appropriation of gay rights as homonationalist propaganda? What can queer critique offer in answer to these questions?
Chair: Dr Grietje Baars, City Law School, City University
Discussant: Dr Gina Heathcote (SOAS – Centre for Gender Studies and School of Law)
Speakers (in order of speaking):
Professor Aeyal Gross, Visiting Reader in Law, SOAS, University of London and Associate Professor of Law, Tel-Aviv University
Title: ‘Gay Governance: A Queer Critique’
Dr Vanja Hamzić, SOAS, University of London
Title: ‘International Law as Violence: Competing Absences of the Other’
Dr Rahul Rao, SOAS, University of London
You can find out more about this event at http://goo.gl/9f50NA