Congratulations on the creation of this new space for connection and communication. I love the passion for equality that underlies it and share your desire to explore what this means in regards to law, gender and sexuality. So much so that I want to share some of my own thoughts and feelings.
I recently attended the Transforming Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Lives conference in Brighton. A number of the speakers focused on legal methods of transforming lives; some of them were politicians or lawyers themselves. Now, I’m a benefactor of legal reform and I’m deeply appreciative of the efforts undertaken by others to transform laws. The decriminalisation of homosexuality and the recognition of same-sex partnership in immigration law have allowed me to live here in the UK with my partner. At the same time, I’m very aware that it was the institution of laws — the criminalisation of homosexuality and the creation of border controls — which created these problems in the first place. I’m also very aware that being pale, male and excessively educated made my immigration process easier than for those who do not have access to these characterisitics privileged in our hierarchical culture. So for these reasons and others, I’m very cautious of focusing too much on law as a mechanism of social change.
The main reason, really, is that equality under the law doesn’t make much sense to me when law is created by an elite. Now, if law were the product of popular sovereignty, that would be different. But where law is claimed as a higher power to which one appeals, petitions, or lobbies, what does ‘equality’ mean in this context? I’m with Wendy Brown in her essay ‘Wounded Attachments’ where she questions the motivation of ‘minorities’ to seek protection, thus reinscribing their status as the weak in need of protection from the strong/state. And so, for me, an autonomist, anarchist or other other-than-state notion of law seems to me to be a fruitful avenue of exploration for queer/feminist/egalitarian politics, policy and practice.
What might popular queer/feminist law/sovereignty look like? Does it already exist in certain times and places? How might it be nurtured? These are a few questions I have.