Law and Sexuality

A commentary and resource on Law and Sexuality by Professor Chris Ashford and guests


Rosemary_AuchmutyPlease feel free to pass this on to your networks/contacts.

I’m delighted to announce details of another forthcoming Northumbria Gender, Sexuality and Law Research Group seminar.

Professor Rosemary Auchmuty (University of Reading) will be delivering a seminar entitled ‘The Experience of Civil Partnership Dissolution: Not ‘Just Like Divorce’’ on Wednesday 22 April 2015 at 3pm. The seminar will take place at Northumbria Law School, City Campus East, Room 216.

If you would like to attend the seminar, please let Chris Ashford know at:



Between 2012 and 2014 I interviewed some of the earliest civil partners to dissolve their partnerships about their experience of dissolution. When I presented my findings, most family lawyers responded that dissolution was ‘pretty much like divorce’. And so it was, in many respects; but in other ways, not. It is a drawback of equality measures intended to extend privileges to those formerly excluded that the worldview and standard against which new entrants are judged remain those of the original, dominant, group. It is also characteristic that those norms are so engrained in the psychology of the dominant group as to render alternative versions invisible or impossible to conceive. This paper, therefore, focuses on the legal understandings of gays and lesbians who have undergone dissolution of their civil partnerships and on their experiences of it. This seemed to me important for three reasons. First, the experiences of lesbians and gay men have historically been marginalised, pathologised or absent from legal accounts and the dominant legal consciousness. In this research they would be put centre-stage. Second, the institution of civil partnership – transient though it may turn out to be – deserves study as the point of entry into legal recognition and regulation of same-sex couples’ relationships in the UK. And, third, it is this precise history that makes it different from marriage, and dissolution different from divorce, whatever the similarities in legal treatment.


A pioneer of women’s studies and feminist legal studies in higher education in Britain, Rosemary (an Australian by upbringing) was Associate Director of the AHRC Centre for Law, Gender and Sexuality, a joint enterprise between the Universities of Westminster, Keele and Kent, for three years before joining Reading Law School in 2007. She is currently an executive member of the Society of Legal Scholars, a member of the Socio-Legal Studies Association and the Law and Society Association and a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, and was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts in 2012. Since 2000 she has been a Visiting professor at the University of Paris-Ouest Nanterre La Defense, France, teaching Land Law and Trusts. Prior to moving into law she wrote widely in the areas of women’s history and children’s literature, including three books – Australia’s Daughters (Sydney: Methuen, 1978), A World of Girls: the Appeal of the Girls’ School Story (London: The Women’s Press, 1992, 2nd ed. 2004) and A World of Women: growing up in the girls’ school story (London: The Women’s Press,1999, 2nd ed. 2008). She co-edited the 2-volume Encyclopaedia of School Stories (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2000) and wrote several entries for the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2004) and the Oxford Encyclopedia of Children’s Literature (2006). She has just completed a British Academy funded project on dissolution of civil partnerships. Her current research interests include property law, legal history, and gender and sexuality issues, particularly marriage and civil partnership.


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This entry was posted on February 19, 2015 by in Uncategorized.

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