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SLSA seminar explores queer outsiders who remain beyond the law’s reach with contribution from Prof Sharon Cowan

Thu 7 January 2021

Sharon Cowan

Sharon Cowan, Professor of Feminist and Queer Legal Studies at Edinburgh Law School, presented at a Socio- Legal Studies Association seminar on 'The Queer Outside in Law', hosted by the University of Bristol Law School.

The seminar took place on on 11 November 2020 and was a contribution to current debates about “queer outsides” and “queer outsiders” that emerge from tensions in legal reforms aimed at improving the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, and queer people in the United Kingdom. The event follows on from the publication of a new edited collection, The Queer Outside in Law – Recognising LGBTIQ People in the United Kingdom (Palgrave MacMillan, eds. Raj and Dunne) in December 2020.

LGBTIQ people in the UK have moved from being situated as “outlaws” – through prohibitions on homosexuality or cross-dressing – to respectable “in laws” – through the emerging acceptance of same-sex families and self-identified genders. From the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality in the Sexual Offences Act 1967, to the provision of a bureaucratic mechanism to amend legal sex in the Gender Recognition Act 2004, bringing LGBTIQ people “inside” the law has prompted enormous activist and academic commentary on the desirability of inclusion-focused legal and social reforms.

Canvassing an array of current socio-legal debates on colonialism, refugee law, legal gender recognition, intersex autonomy and transgender equality, the seminar explored “queer outsiders” who remain beyond the law’s reach and outlined the ways in which these outsiders might seek to “come within” and/or “stay outside” law.

Contribution from Professor Sharon Cowan consisted of a presentation to the SLSA panel and event attendees, discussing 'The Best Place on the Planet to be Trans? Transgender Equality and Legal Consciousness in Scotland'.

Sharon Cowan
I love the positive energy generated in doing and sharing this work and I really appreciate the support and solidarity that has run through this project. Thanks to all the contributors.
Sharon Cowan
Professor of Feminist and Queer Legal Studies at Edinburgh Law School

Victims Taskforce - Privacy Rights for Sexual Offences Complainers

Later that month, Sharon was also a speaker at the Scottish Government Victims Taskforce Roundtable on Privacy Rights for Sexual Offences Complainers, which took place on 23 November 2020.

The Victims Taskforce has been established to improve support, advice and information for victims of crime. The primary role of the Taskforce is to co-ordinate and drive action to improve the experiences of victims and witnesses within the criminal justice system, whilst ensuring a fair justice system for those accused of crime.

Prof Sharon Cowan discusses the use and impact of sexual history evidence in Scottish criminal trials

Earlier in the year, Prof Sharon Cowan spoke at an EHRC webinar to discuss the use and impact of sexual history evidence in Scottish criminal trials, referring to her recently published review on the matter - as well as giving a talk to the student group Lawyers Without Borders at a refugee and asylum policy event pitched at students across the university.

Learn more about Sharon Cowan's research