Criminalization as a Response to Anti-LGBT Discrimination and Violence

Break Out Session Round #3


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. 


Ryan Thoreson



Melanie Judge 


Adjunct Associate Professor, University of Cape Town

Estefania Vela Barba


Executive Director, Intersecta

Jason Wu


Lawyer, Legal AID Society

Neela Ghoshal 

Any pronoun

Associate LGBT Rights Director, Human Rights Watch 

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