Conference: Queer Lives Past and Present - Interrogating the Legal

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Queer Lives Past and Present: Interrogating the Legal

Wednesday 29 November 2017: Birkbeck, University of London.

Registration (free) by 20 November to

2017 marks the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Sexual Offences Act, which brought about the partial decriminalisation of male homosexuality in England and Wales. ‘Queer Lives Past and Present: Interrogating the Legal’, rather than celebrating or commemorating the anniversary, seeks to think critically about the position of legal reform in 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)? The conference 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.

The programme can be viewed online here: There are four panels during the day, and a keynote public lecture by Chris Waters in the evening (in the same venue). This lecture is part of the Institute of Historical Research’s History of Sexuality seminar series and no booking is required. Chris’s lecture, ‘Turing in Context: Sexual Offences in Cheshire in the 1950s’, starts at 6pm.

‘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

The conference is kindly supported by the IHR History of Sexuality seminar series, as well as the Raphael Samuel History Centre, Manchester Metropolitan University and Birkbeck, University of London.