Between Shul and State: lesbian Orthodox women negotiate religion and law

The Regroupement Droit, Changements et Gouvernance has the pleasure of welcoming Eliza Bateman (DCL/PhD Candidate, Faculty of Law, McGill University) for the February Midi-conférence des jeunes chercheurs. Elizas talk is titled « Between Shul and State: lesbian Orthodox women negotiate religion and law » .

RESUME – Résumé

In this section of my research, I analyze tensions and attempted reconciliations that LGBTQ-identifying religious women experience in terms of their religious and sexual selfhood. This analysis is situated in the rights discourse of liberal democracies (such as the USA and Canada) where state law increasingly recognises the equality rights of LGBTQ people, including marriage equality, while also respecting the religious freedom rights of religions (or branches of religion) that disavow or forbid homosexuality. This interplay creates a tension for devout lesbian religious women between their formal (state) equality rights and conflicting rules that exist within their religious communities. I apply a legal pluralist lens to the experiences of Orthodox lesbian Jewish women in the USA and Canada, to identify the legal norms that are operative on these women. I then suggest that rights-respecting outcomes, congruous with these women’s religious identity rather than in conflict with it, may be possible through negotiations with religious pluralist orders rather than through a strict application of state law to the individual.

By focusing on the legal norms that operate within Orthodox Jewish communities (that challenge state law positions on LGBTQ rights), I unpack first how the act of lesbian sexuality is legally ‘unseen’ by the Torah, and how this regulatory gap has been filled by Talmudic rulings and community norms. I then investigate whether negotiations within this religious legal order between Rabbis, the religious community and lesbian women can give these women a new space as legal ‘subjects’ or agents, who remake or reinterpret the law that operates upon them, thereby achieving a lawful reconciliation between their sexual and religious selves.

SPEAKER – Conférencière

Eliza Bateman is a doctoral candidate in the Faculty of Law at McGill. She researches and writes in the areas of human rights, legal theory and gender identity politics. Her dissertation focuses on how LGBTQ+-identifying members of religious communities act as legal subjects within communities that disavow or forbid their sexuality. This work applies a feminist method and centres on the experience of religious women who identify as LGBTQ+ or who connect to LGBTQ+ people through marriage or family. Eliza is admitted to the Bar in the state of Victoria, Australia. She previously worked as a lawyer specializing in administrative law and equal opportunity and human rights matters: as a senior legal advisor for the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission and then as a senior lawyer at Victoria Legal Aid. Eliza has also worked as a senior policy officer, sensitive case manager and lawyer for the Australian Federal Government.


Ce contenu a été mis à jour le 16 janvier 2017 à 15 h 34 min.


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