Human rights advocates have long pressed for the decriminalization of same-sex activity, abortion, and sex work – not only as a matter of bodily autonomy, but because of the discriminatory enforcement and restrictions on rights associated with criminal punishment. Often, LGBT advocates have also pushed states to enact strong criminal penalties for things like discrimination, hate speech, and conversion therapy. This panel asks how human rights advocates might think about criminalization, and the pros and cons of using criminal law as a tool for advancing sexual rights. Speakers will consider what criminalization aims to achieve, how criminalization might affect survivors and perpetrators of discrimination, and alternatives to criminalization that advocates have utilized in feminist and LGBT advocacy.
Adjunct Associate Professor, University of Cape Town
Estefania Vela Barba
Executive Director, Intersecta
Lawyer, Legal AID Society
Associate LGBT Rights Director, Human Rights Watch