Wednesday 29 November 2017

Birkbeck, University of London

Clore Lecture Theatre, Clore Management Centre
Torrington Square, WC1E 7JL

conference website


2017 marks the fiftieth anniversary of the passing of the Sexual Offences Bill, which partially decriminalised male homosexual acts in England and Wales. But what is the position of legal reform in the field of queer history? Does homosexual law reform in the UK and elsewhere represent a rupture in queer politics and the context in which same-sex desiring men made their lives, or does focusing on legal thresholds obscure continuities and other factors? What was the impact of homosexual law reform on those sexualities that had not been criminalised in the same way or to the same extent (including lesbianism)? Queer Lives Past and Present brings together scholars working on diverse aspects of the LGBT and queer past to discuss how the legal affected, and continues to affect, everyday queer lives.

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Registration is free: please email Craig Griffiths by 20 November. A vegetarian lunch is provided; please let me know if you have any further dietary or access requirements.


9.15 – 9.45      Tea and Coffee

9.45 – 10.00    Welcome and introductory remarks

Craig Griffiths (Manchester Metropolitan University)

10.00 – 11.30 Panel One – Queer Law and Contemporary Politics

  • Pardon You! State Disregards of Past Homosexual Offences in the UK
    • Justin Bengry (Goldsmiths, University of London)
  • Queer International Law and its Potentiality: Taking (Identity) Politics Seriously
    • Po-Han Lee (Sussex Law School)
  • Progress at home and violence abroad? Diplomacy, queer lives and transnational law reform
    • Kay Lalor (Manchester Metropolitan University)

 11.30 – 12.30 Panel Two – Gender, Marriage and Religion

  • ‘Save Ulster from Sodomy!’: homosexuality in Northern Ireland after 1967
    • Sean Brady (Birkbeck, University of London)
  • ‘The bearded Callistratus has been taken in marriage by the lusty Afer’ (Martial 12.42); a very queer marriage in ancient Rome
    • Jennifer Ingleheart (University of Durham)

12.30 – 1.30    Sandwich Lunch

1.30 – 2.30      Panel Three – Policing Sodomitical Acts

  • Sodomitical Publicities: Policing and punting in Hyde Park, Sydney (New South Wales), 1820-1900
    • Mark Peart (University of Sydney)
  • The Fall and Rise of Persecution: Assessing the Impact of the Decriminalization of Sodomy in Belgium, 1770-1830
    • Elwin Hofman (University of Leuven)

 2.30 – 4.00      Panel Four – The Limitations of the Legal in Continental Europe

  • I am just afraid, afraid of being exposed’: How the armed forces in West and East Germany dealt with homosexual soldiers
    • Klaus Storkmann (Center of Military History and Social Sciences, Potsdam)
  • Anti-gay state oppression in the People’s Republic of Poland – gay reactions to the ‘Operation Hyacinth’
    • Magda Wlostowska (Leipzig University)
  • Towards liberalisation? The police and judiciary in France from 1968 to the onset of HIV/AIDS
    • Dan Callwood (Queen Mary, University of London)

4.00 – 4.15      Tea and Coffee

4.15 – 5.00      Roundtable discussion


Public Lecture
6.00 – 7.30

Turing in Context: Sexual Offences in Cheshire in the 1950s
Chris Waters (Williams College, Massachusetts)

Queer Lives Past and Present: Interrogating the Legal
is kindly supported by the History Research Centre at Manchester Metropolitan University, the Raphael Samuel History Centre, the history of sexuality seminar at the Institute of Historical Research, and Birkbeck, University of London.

Queer Lives Past and Present: Interrogating the Legal is part of a week-long exploration of LGBTQ history in London, and it runs alongside other events for which separate registration is required:

  • a two-day conference on Queer Localities (Birkbeck, 30 November – 1 December), which is part of a major two-year AHRC project on ‘Sexualities and Localities’, known as ‘Queer Beyond London’
  • and the annual London Metropolitan Archives 15th LGBTQ History and Archives Conference on Saturday 2nd December

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