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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Law : Law

Postgraduate Course: LGBT Rights: A Legal Perspective (LAWS11503)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Law CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryLGBT Rights: A Legal Perspective engages with the complex relationship between selected LGBT matters and the legal framework applying to them. Its basis is the treatment which minorities defined by gender identity and sexual orientation have received in human rights law, with the case law of the European Court of Human Rights and of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights being particularly important sources. In selected case studies, the course will also deal with the way in which domestic laws have implemented LGBT rights or have provided adopted a restrictive stance on matters relating to sexual minorities. The topics under discussion include criminalisation and decriminalisation of same-sex activities, anti-discrimination legislation, same-sex marriages and same-sex unions, transgender rights and the law relating to conversion practices. At the end of the course students are expected to have obtained insight into the way in which courts have interpreted human rights instruments to protect rights that are not expressly mentioned in them, to have developed the ability to critically examine some of the leading controversies in the field of LGBT rights and to be able to compare approaches that domestic laws have taken on salient issues relating to the protection of sexual minorities.

Course description Seminar 1 - Concepts and the Law: An Introduction
Concepts, terminology and the legal approach to them: LGBT, LGBTI, queer, transgender etc; gender identity, sexual orientation, gender expression etc. Overview of the course and the question of perspective (atlanto-centric perspectives vs global perspectives etc).

Seminar 2 - From Stonewall to the World
The development of LGBT rights, especially since the Stonewall Riots in 1969. The evolution of societal and legal thinking on LGBT matters, including stereotypes and prejudices in the law.

Seminar 3 - The Legal Framework of LGBT Rights
In particular: Human Rights with regard to LGBT matters. The importance of the right to privacy. Other aspects of human rights (eg, freedom of religion, freedom of expression) and their impact on LGBT matters. Positive and negative obligations of States; balancing of rights, proportionality. The Yogyakarta Principles and Yogyakarta Plus10.

Seminar 4 - Aspects of Discrimination
The development of laws against discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity. Fields of discrimination and prominent examples of anti-discrimination initiatives. Human rights law with regard to non-discrimination. The Equality Act and current developments in that regard.

Seminar 5 - Criminalisation, Decriminalisation, Recriminalisation
Legislation in various jurisdictions that criminalises or decriminalises same-sex activities and other protected LGBT characteristics. Efforts at recriminalisation. The assessment of the relevant laws under human rights.

Seminar 6 - Same-sex marriage and Same-sex unions
Legislative efforts to allow for same-sex unions and same-sex marriage and, on the other side, efforts to adopt a legal ban on such unions. Referendums, plebiscites and prominent court judgments on same-sex marriage. Case law from human rights courts on same-sex unions.

Seminar 7 - Transgender Rights and Rights of Non-Binary People
The development of the recognition of transgender rights and the rights of non-binary people: the Christine Goodwin case, other relevant human rights cases and their consequences. The Gender Recognition Act and its reform; contemporary debate on transgender rights.

Seminar 8 - Conversion Practices
The concept of conversion practices (or conversion 'therapy'). Its legal assessment in various States (eg, Malta, Germany, Victoria) and ongoing efforts to ban conversion practices (especially in Scotland and the other parts of the UK). Aspects of criminalisation (eg, the question of consent and of intent). The evaluation of conversion practices and laws banning the under human rights law.

Seminar 9 - Contemporary issues in LGBT Rights
This seminar is kept open for a debate on contemporary issues in LGBT rights law. It is envisaged that, circumstances permitting, this seminar will be delivered by a guest lecturer with particular expertise in the relevant field.

Seminar 10 - Revision Seminar
The state of LGBT rights today. Essay writing in this field ¿ points examiners are looking for; important aspects for a legal approach towards LGBT rights.

Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2023/24, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  25
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 196 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) End of semester essay of 6,000 words (100%)
Feedback The formative assessment for this course will consist of a short practice essay. Feedback will be provided, but the assessment will not count towards the final mark of the course.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Locate and evaluate instruments on LGBT rights, as well as judgments, academic opinion and sources on the factual background of these areas.
  2. Have a critical understanding of the elements of LGBT rights especially with regard to their evaluation under human rights law.
  3. Have gained a critical awareness of the main controversies and the theories proposed on these issues.
Reading List
Ball, Carlos A, 'After Marriage Equality: The Future of LGBT Rights' (Toronto: NYU Press; 2016)
Baumle, Amanda K; Compton, D'Lane R, Legalizing LGBT Families: How the Law Shapes Parenthood (New York: NYU Press; 2015)
Behrens, Paul; Becker, Sean, Justice After Stonewall: LGBT Life Between Challenge and Change (Routledge 2023)
Eskridge, William N, Gaylaw: Challenging the Apartheid of the Closet (Harvard University Press 2009)
Eskridge Jr, William N et al (eds), Religious Freedom, LGBT Rights, and the Prospects for Common Ground (New York: Cambridge University Press; 2018)
Temperman, Jeroen, Religious Speech, Hatred and LGBT Rights: An International Human Rights Analysis (Brill 2021)

Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills 1. Research skills are developed through work for each seminar, as well as the formative and the summative assessments. Throughout the debates in the course, students should develop critical analytical skills with regard in particular to the main controversies that the recognition and implementation of LGBT rights involve.
2. Skills and abilities in personal and intellectual autonomy are promoted in particular through the independent preparatory work that students have to carry out in advance of each seminar (in particular in relation to the individual seminar questions which will be provided). Through group discussions, they will take responsibility not only for their own work, but also for the work of others.
3. Oral communication is developed through debates on salient questions relating to LGBT rights throughout the course and the use of group work at appropriate junctures. Students will thus learn to communicate efficiently with their peers and undertake critical evaluation of the arguments advanced by each side. Written communication will be developed in particular through the students' work on the formative and the summative assessment.
4. Students will learn to effectively assess elements of the law relating to LGBT rights, including their adoption and implementation on the domestic stage; but also to evaluate the interaction between human rights which protect LGBT persons with other human rights. They will be able to enhance their personal effectiveness in the seminar sessions where the arguments which they will have prepared, will be tested by a peer group and where they will also have the opportunity to compare the validity of their points to that made by other students.
5. In the course of the seminars, students will learn to solve problems utilising the knowledge gained from the various seminars and work effectively as part of a group towards this end.
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Paul Behrens
Course secretaryMs Susanna Wickes
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