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Snapshots of law, gender and sexuality news from the past couple of weeks.

“It’s grim, I’ve got to say”: the future of LGBTQ+ rights following the US presidential election

Holly Khambatta-Higgins, University of Manchester

On Wednesday 8th November, it was announced that Donald Trump will be the next President Elect of the United States of America. The result followed a long election campaign which saw the Republican Party proposing its most ‘homophobic party platform in years’. With January bringing the introduction of a Republican President, congress and house, the prospect of what this means for the future of LGBTQ+ rights is being extensively debated, with a growing consensus that the election outcome is ‘grim’.

The election has brought in its wake a great sense of panic, fear and uncertainty from the LGBTQ+ community, which has been both fuelled and captured by numerous media outlets. During his campaign, President Elect Trump made multiple public statements regarding legislation that would directly affect the LGBTQ+ community. This included his pledge to sign the Republican ‘first Amendment Defence Act’ which would in theory, protect an individual’s right to discriminate against members of the LGBTQ+ community, due to the individual’s religious and moral beliefs.

It is not just the President Elect who has warranted concern from the LGBTQ+ community; it is reported that the vice president Mike Pence could pose an equal (if not greater) threat. Mike Pence has been particularly open about his opposition to same sex marriage. However his views extend further than this; it is reported that Pence is in support of conversion therapy, a treatment that aims to ‘correct’ homosexuality, and has proposed that this should be financially supported by relocating the funding that is currently being used to treat HIV and AIDS. In addition to Pence, Trump’s transition team contains a plethora of anti-LGBTQ+ politicians, including Ben Carson who has reportedly likened homosexuality to bestiality and paedophilia. (more…)

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IB imageSnapshots of law, gender and sexuality news from the past couple of weeks.

H&M’s 2016 Autumn Collection: a step forward for feminism?

Begüm Elif Yılmaz, University of Manchester

A recent H&M film advertisement for the fashion company’s 2016 Autumn Collection has been the centre of attention for feminists on the web in recent weeks. The ad seems perfect on the surface. With the song “she’s a lady” playing in the background, it is made up of footage of a host of ‘real’ women enjoying their lives. The apparent aim of the advert is to challenge people’s understanding of what being a lady really means and to celebrate those women who do not conform to the gender standards of society. In short, the advertisement highlights the important idea that all women are still women regardless of what they look like, where they come from, what they do and how they do it. It includes a trans woman, a woman in a restaurant picking her teeth with her fingers, a curvy woman in her underwear comfortably admiring herself in the mirror, a woman with an unshaven armpit enjoying junk food, a woman with a shaven head, a strong executive directing a meeting, a proud androgynous woman who would traditionally be ridiculed for her so-called “masculinity”, an older woman and a woman in an empty subway spreading her legs. These women come from various backgrounds, making the advertisement not just a feminist one, but also one that adds a broader diversity element to the conversation. Challenging the societal norm that women can and ought to only have a specific look and possess a certain collection of traits, this advertisement seems to reflect a deeply progressive presentation of modern women. Almost all women have been warned at least once in their lives for doing something “inappropriate” because it is “unladylike”, and as such the new advert’s overarching theme seems to be largely positive.

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Alex Sharpe i10689909_1016854768344392_8793741729286128967_ns Professor of Law at Keele University.

The Conversation blog recently published an article authored by Rebecca Reilly-Cooper of Warwick University, titled: Why self-identification shouldn’t be the only thing that defines our gender.[1] They then invited me, as a Trans woman, to offer an alternative perspective. However, the Conversation were not happy to publish my article as written, because, as they put it, it takes the form of a ‘take-down.’ Instead, they encouraged me to rework the article as a stand-alone piece. To be fair, they had been clear about this from the outset. However, having read Reilly-Cooper’s article which, in my view, possesses neither of the Conversation’s cornerstones, academic rigour or journalistic flare, I  considered a ‘take-down’ to be the only appropriate response, other than, of course, simply ignoring it. Anything else, in my view, would confer legitimacy on a position I consider to be both politically and ethically bereft. (more…)

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10689909_1016854768344392_8793741729286128967_nAlex Sharpe is a professor at Keele University School of Law.

Yesterday, the government’s Women and Equalities Commitee released its long-awaited report on transgender equality[1] The report is generally very positive in identifying a range of serious problems faced by transgender people and in making some important recommendations (especially in relation to healthcare provision, prison reform, depathologisation, and legal recognition of trans youth (16/17 year olds) and non-binary people). However, the committee side-stepped the important issue of prosecutions for ‘gender fraud,’ despite receiving written submissions on this subject. Accordingly, an important opportunity to address the travesty of such prosecutions has been missed.

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DLSWednesday 16th March 2016, 2-5pm (lunch from 1pm)
Institute of Advanced Studies, Palace Green, Durham University

Organised by Gender & Law at Durham (GLAD)

 

Using Law in Response to Domestic Abuse: Women’s Experiences

Professor Heather Douglas, University of Queensland, IAS Fellow 2015-2016

This paper reports on early findings from a longitudinal study (over three years) of women’s engagement with law as a response to domestic abuse. The aim of the project is to identify how, when, why and with what effect women from diverse backgrounds use legal processes to help them move towards abuse free lives and how engagement with law varies over time.  So far 62 women have been recruited and interviewed with the assistance of a variety of community organisations and private lawyers in Brisbane Australia.  Issues addressed in this paper include the interviewees’ reasons for their initial engagement with the legal system and the selection of particular legal pathways and their experience of these pathways.

Restorative Approaches and Domestic Abuse: pitfalls and possibilities

Professor Clare McGlynn and Professor Nicole Westmarland, Durham University

At a time when the police are said to be ‘overwhelmed’ by ‘staggering’ levels of domestic abuse, is there a role for restorative justice? Drawing on data we secured from police forces across the UK on their use of restorative justice in cases of domestic abuse, we analyse current practices in this area and consider any lessons to be learned. We also examine the potential risks in using restorative approaches, particularly in cases of intimate partner violence, as well as the possibilities for new ways to challenge domestic abuse and bring a sense of justice to survivors.

Examining ‘medium risk’ amongst female survivors of domestic abuse

Dr Clare Gunby and Dr Rebecca Barnes, Leicester University

Risk assessment is an integral part of police responses to domestic violence. To date, however, police response has prioritised those survivors identified as ‘high risk’ of domestic abuse. This has meant that those classed as ‘medium risk’ often slip through the intervention net, as well as the category remaining largely under-theorised. This paper discusses key findings from a process and outcome evaluation of an innovative support intervention in Nottinghamshire for women experiencing medium risk, repeat domestic abuse. In doing so, we examine what the medium risk category looks like, consider the challenges of working with this diverse group of survivors and consider what counts (and should count) as success when evaluating the intervention.

Respondents:

Karen Ingala Smith, @CountDeadWomen, PhD candidate Durham University

Dr Fiona Vera Gray, Leverhulme Research Fellow, Durham University

 

For further information, contact Clare.McGlynn@durham.ac.uk

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DLSCLS

 

 

 

The Future of Registered Partnerships: A Joint Durham/Cambridge Family Law Conference

Organised by Dr Andy Hayward (Durham) and Dr Jens M. Scherpe (Cambridge)

Bringing together experts in family law from over 14 jurisdictions, this two-­‐day, CPD accredited conference will analyse the function and future of opposite and same-­‐sex registered partnerships in Europe.

Date: Friday 10th July (10am-­‐5pm) – Saturday 11th July 2015 (9am-­‐1:30pm)
Venue: The Faculty of Law, 10 West Road, Cambridge with Conference Dinner at Gonville and Caius College.

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From Scolds to Trolls; Social and Legal Responses to Visible and Audible Women

A one-day symposium: September 15th 2015

Organised by the Centre for Law and Society at Lancaster University Law School

Keynote Speaker: Professor Feona Attwood, Professor of Cultural Studies, Communication and Media at Middlesex University, UK

Theme

Underlying the trolling of visible and audible women is the deeply entrenched misogynistic idea of silencing women. Trolling is arguably just the latest methodology used to keep women silence. The process of silencing women has been on-going for centuries. In the 15th century, women were silenced by various methods one of which was known as the scolds bridle; a cast iron cage that was fitted over the head of the woman and which included a metal plate with spikes on that was inserted into her mouth. The intention and the effect were not only to silence that particular woman, but also to have a disciplinary effect on other women. The trolling of women such as Emma Watson; Mary Beard; Caroline Criado-Perez and Stella Creasy, raise questions about whether the trolling of audible and visible women is a modern equivalent of the scolds bridle. When looking at the effects these mechanisms produce, it is difficult to see the difference between the 15th century and the 21st century. Whilst men can indeed be trolled, the significant difference in their experience is that they are not trolled because of their sex or gender. The silencing of women and issues related to women straddles all areas of life from bank notes; video games and the high street (e.g. River Island’s ‘Anti Nag Gag’); or politics (e.g. Michael Fabricant’s tweet that he would like to ‘throat-punch’ a female journalist).

We welcome submissions from a broad range of disciplines including law, criminology, media, sociology, cultural studies, history, social sciences, economics, psychology, linguistics and gender studies; from academics and non-academics whose work is relevant to the symposium theme, or which is of a multidisciplinary or interdisciplinary nature.

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