Comparative and International Approaches to Gender, Sexuality and the Law
Students will learn how different aspects of sexuality, gender and sexual orientation are being treated around the world and ignored and/or recognized in national and international law. Gender, sexuality and social behavior related to it have always been subject to norms, rules and value judgments. This has been reflected traditionally by religious norms and more recently by legal norms conditioning such aspects and subjecting certain behaviors to specific conditions and sanctions, be it education, military service, professional choices, marriage or heritage – all these are regulated at national and increasingly international level. Human rights have become a predominant looking-glass through which they are analyzed, but there are also other aspects that shape today’s norms and values relating to these aspects. Students will learn to analyze their own views and value judgments and to understand the differing legal solutions found globally. They will compare the various solutions and analyze the difficulties arising from the co-existence of various systems. In particular, they will study common approaches at regional and global level to shaping the respective rules.
Students will become familiar with the most important case law in the field, especially from the European Court of Human Rights and the UN Human Rights Committee, but also from various national courts. After an introduction to the role of international law in this area students will study various specific aspects. These include the criminalization of certain individual behaviors and the attempts to decriminalize many of them in recent years now that they are considered as expressions of one’s personal freedom. At the same time the criminalization of certain gender-related crimes will be studied (hate crimes, discrimination etc.). General ideas of equality and non-discrimination will also be examined in detail. In addition certain specific situations in life (employment, marriage, parenting etc.) will be studied in more depth in order to understand to what extent various legal solutions and social attitudes shape society.
The course is based on an interactive form of teaching. Students will have to prepare short papers and present them in class. In addition, a considerable amount of time will be devoted to group discussions and role playing.
The course allows students with different academic backgrounds to understand current issues of society that are important for global cooperation and coordination. A broad spectrum of relevant disciplines is involved (history, economics, cultural studies, sociology etc.) to understand the political and legal implications of various solutions. The knowledge thus gained is of importance in many activities, be they in academia, private practice, politics or culture. Students will be aware of existing structures and their origin. The will be trained to assess the impact of these structures on the well-being and performance of individuals and to propose improvements and processes that can lead to an acknowledgement of diversity and respect of individual and societal needs.
Syllabus and Reading
Readings: “International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), Yogyakarta Principles - Principles on the application of international human rights law in relation to sexual orientation and gender identity” March 2007, available at: http://www.unhcr.org/refworld/docid/48244e602.html
Readings: International Commission of Jurists (eds.), Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Justice: A Comparative Law Casebook, Geneva, 2012 (hereinafter: Casebook), Ch. 1.
This publication can be downloaded free of charge at: http://icj.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/Sexual-orientation-gender-identity-and-Justice-report-2011.pdf
Readings: Casebook, Ch. 2
Readings: Casebook, Ch. 4.
Readings: Casebook, Ch. 5.
Reading: Casebook, Ch. 3.
Readings: Casebook, Ch. 14.
Readings: Casebook, Ch. 13.
Readings: Casebook, Ch. 11.
Readings: Casebook, Ch. 12.
Teaching Evaluation Method
This course will be taught using a combination of lectures and class discussions. It will be based on student preparation of the course materials which will be distributed in advance. These course materials structure the entire course program in the form of review questions. Students are supposed to prepare and to debate them in class as well as to contribute with their own insights.
International Commission of Jurists (eds.), Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Justice: A Comparative Law Casebook, Geneva. This publication can be downloaded free of charge at: http://icj.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/Sexual-orientation-gender-identity-and-Justice-report-2011.pdf
An updated version of this bibliography can be found here: http://www.unil.ch/dip/page89166_en.html