Ever get the feeling that the law doesn’t always fulfil its goal of impartiality and equal treatment before the law? Through reading the law queerly, this gathering of students and scholars will take a critical journey into law, theory and practice.
Designed over a three year period to complement and challenge the learning of Juris Doctor students throughout their program, but open to all members of the Melbourne Law School community, this reading group will explore queer, sexuality, desire, feminist and intersectional politics and theories in the law.
Zoom links and details are below. No registration is required.
Participants are expected to read deeply and think creatively in advance of the session the following materials:
Queer Cowboys in Mexico City, Brad Jessup (2017) ©
Year 1 - 2019
This paper takes us a back over a decade to a controversy about photographic art, and invites us to think, despite the passage of same sex marriage laws, and a change of government, if anything much has changed in Australian law and policy on queer matters. Are we still in a state of crisis? Unsure whether the cause of equality is best pursued through or outside the legal system?
This paper presents a queer critique of the ground 'sexual orientation' in Australian discrimination law, with a particular focus on its exclusion of non-LGB sexualities such as polyamory, sadomasochism and asexuality.
Liam Elphick, Sexual Orientation and 'Gay Wedding Cake' Cases Under Australian Anti-Discrimination Legislation: A Fuller Approach to Religious Exemptions (October 25, 2017). Adelaide Law Review, Vol. 38, No. 1, 2017.
This reading will provoke discussion about the intersection of freedom from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and freedom of religion: a matter that is occupying the minds of many in our federal polity. Elphick suggests that a theorised way to accommodate conflicting rights may provide an alternate path to existing proportionality-type approaches: but should the law be used to sanction exclusion or denial? Our discussion will undoubtedly turn to the position of religious schools and the possibility for adverse treatment of their queer staff and students that exists in current laws. How does the law allow this to occur? What might it say about the exercise of power and control over the law, but also the changing influence of rights-based law, and in particular equality-based law, in our legal system?
Year 2 - 2020
In this session we will read some accessible commentary reflecting on ‘marriage equality’ from the edited collection by Eades and Vivienne and in the memoir of Altman. Within the selected extracts from these books you will see a critique of the happenings and the aftermath of the politics surrounding the most recent changes to the Commonwealth Marriage Act 1961. The authors invite you to consider the position of people whose identity did not accord with the portrayal of the benefactors and most enthusiastic supporters of ‘marriage equality’.
You are also encouraged to read the book reviews of these works by Iris Lee (‘Where is the radical queer imagination? On Going Postal’, 2018) available at https://overland.org.au/2018/12/going-postal-where-is-the-radical-queer-imagination/ and Brad Jessup (‘A consideration of love’, 2020) available at https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1037969X20903536.
This case is a recent landmark decision concerning capacity and role to consent by children, parents and the court to stage 2 treatment for gender dysphoria. It follows a number of cases after Re Jamie and continues to apply the rule developed by the High Court in Marion’s case. Despite the progress the case represents, in light of the recent controversy about autonomy of trans people over their lives, does this case afford such autonomy to trans kids?
In reading this chapter of Ahmed’s more expansive work, we will explore the topic of queer feelings; and especially awareness of one’s queerness in socio-lega-political happenings and learnings. You are invited to reflect on how and when you feel queer in your interactions with the law. The full ebook is available at http://cat.lib.unimelb.edu.au:80/record=b6437792~S15
Year 3 - 2021
1:00 - 2:00 pm
In this covering chapter, Kenji Yoshino outlines his argument that the demand to cover can pose a hidden threat to our civil rights. Though we have come to some consensus against penalizing people for differences based on race, sex, sexual orientation, religion, and disability, we still routinely deny equal treatment to people who refuse to downplay differences along these lines. Racial minorities are pressed to “act white” by changing their names, languages, or cultural practices. Women are told to “play like men” at work. Gays are asked not to engage in public displays of same-sex affection. The devout are instructed to minimize expressions of faith, and individuals with disabilities are urged to conceal the paraphernalia that permit them to function.
1:00 - 2:00 pm
In 2009, the Indian LGBT community took its first step towards equal sexual citizenship through the Delhi High Court's judgment in the matter of Naz Foundation v. NCT of Delhi and Others The Bench, comprising then Chief Justice of the High Court Justice A.P. Shah and Justice Muralidhar, crafted a 105-page document that is considered a landmark moment in Indian judicial history. The judgment not only empowered a historically marginalized community, but it also laid the foundation to strengthen other human rights struggles in the country with its expansive reading of constitutional rights.
1:00 - 2:00 pm (by Zoom)
This documentary film (62 mins) is about the Lesbian Herstory Archives and the personal lives of the women involved in it. It tells the story of the process and value of preserving queer histories. As queer students of the law it reminds us and invites us to reflect on how, why and where our stories are told and kept, and how the law over recent decades has silenced our stories, used them instrumentally and then sought our narratives, especially in matters concerning policing of queer lives and the debates over marriage and identities.