Sex, Sexualities and the Law: Changing Attitudes or Perpetuating Stereotypes?
The annual Experiencing the Law Conference is a joint initiative organised by SOLON, the Centre for Contemporaty British History at King’s College London, and the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies. This year’s topic is Sex, Sexualities and the Law – changing attitudes or perpetuating stereotypes?
The attitudes of the law and of legal professionals towards gender equality (particularly in relation to sexualities/sexual conduct) often do not match those visible and pervasive in popular culture. While the theorists and others with reform agendas debate gender and its more subtle nuances, popular culture centralises sex and sexuality as a way of creating individual identities for popular consumption.
Where does this leave the balance of rights in relation to sexuality and an appropriate acceptance of gender difference that reflects differing sexualities and the culture of differing sexual mores? This has very real impacts on how people ‘experience’ the law in action – whether as professionals or lay participants in the legal process.
Is this new or is it part of a historical tradition? How far does – and should – the law successfully reflect popular attitudes towards sex and sexualities? Does the law, should the law, aim to change popular culture and its expressions (the media, music lyrics, art etc)?
Where in daily life should boundaries be drawn between private belief and public good, and what, in this area, constitutes public good in the interests of good order and maintaining the peace? Does history and present experience suggest that there a role for an official or legal policing of sexuality and sexual behaviour, whether it is prostitution, transgender rights and identity, same sex marriages or cultural understandings of gender and consent, especially in criminal cases such as rape? This conference draws together practitioners, activists and academics to discuss a range of issues within these parameters.
PROFESSOR PETER BARTLETT, School of Law, University of Nottingham, on ‘You may kiss the bride, but you may not open your mouth when you do so’: Policies Concerning Sex, Marriage and Relationships in English Forensic Psychiatric Facilities
CHRISTINE COCKER, School of Health and Social Sciences, Middlesex University, on The role of law in lesbian and gay fostering and adoption: is supporting equality radical enough?
DANIEL MONK, School of Law, Birkbeck, University of London, on Reading Gay Wills: Before/Beyond Equality
DR SAMANTHA PEGG, Law School, Nottingham Trent University, on ‘Morning,
George’: Law, and Responses to Bestiality, Past and Present
Dr JUDITH ROWBOTHAM, SOLON, Nottingham Trent University, on ‘Too Indelicate for Publication’: the Courts, the Media and Decisions on the Detail, Past and Present
DR ANNA CARLINE, School of Law, Liverpool John Moores University, on ‘…none of us can describe an elephant but we know what it is when it is in the room.’ Barristers’ perspectives on consent to sexual intercourse.
PROFESSOR LESLIE MORAN, School of Law, Birkbeck, University of London, on The Sexuality of Judicial Authority: Past, Present and Future
Maria Jastrzebska (Writer, Poet, co-founder of Queer Writing South) What difference have civil partnerships made?
The conference takes place on Friday 3 December 2010, at the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, 17 Russell Square, London WC1B 5DR. Further details available from the IALS website.