Ngaire Naffine - our guest commentor for the symposium - introduces the issue in her commentary, "The Sexual Citizen".
The issue was launched on Thursday night at a function at the Law School. Below are the remarks I made on behalf of Elisabeth and myself:
"Sexuality matters. Even in today's modern liberal society, sexuality is important. The treatment of the sexual citizen by our legal framework and institutions continues to be a crucial litmus test for the dignity of our society. Even if one maintains the view that sexuality should be irrelevant in matters of citizenship, civic participation and day-to-day living, this still presupposes equal treatment for all sexual citizens. Sexual citizenship and the treatment of sexuality arises across the legal framework. We are delighted that articles in this issue reflect that by addressing the issue of sexual citizenship in the areas of the family law, relationship recognition, crime and victims of crime, private tort law, and the language of law within our Parliament and judiciary. Critical queer legal scholarship or legal scholarship on sexuality is not easy scholarship to undertake. In New Zealand there has not been a strong tradition of this type of scholarship. Internationally we hear stories from our colleagues about the nervousness associated with this type the scholarship such as questions about the impact on tenure. Even in New Zealand's present PBRF environment, it is easy to doubt how this scholarship might be received or how it might fit into a "research platform" alongside black letter law. It takes some courage to engage in this type of scholarship. That brings me to the symposium held last year that formed the foundation for the special issue. The bringing together of legal scholars provided strength and a desire for boldness that enhanced the scholarship that forms part of the special issue. On behalf of Elizabeth and myself, thanks to Eddie, Nan, Paula, and Graeme (in absentia) for participating in the symposium. Thanks also to Ngaire, who as guest commentator managed to weave our different threads together to make a coherent whole. And on behalf of the participants, thanks to Elizabeth for making the symposium and special issue happen – the symposium and special issue have really been Elizabeth's "baby". And some other thanks. Particular thanks to Judge Ian Borrin for his financial support of the symposium and special issue through his endowment fund. And thanks also to the Victoria University of Wellington Law Review and its editorial committee for its support throughout. Thanks to Will Thomson, Student Editor-in-Chief and his team a student editors for the expertise in correcting our various typos and grammar and their patience throughout. And finally thanks to those of you that are here to share in the celebrations today. Tt is delightful to have representatives from the wider queer and sexuality-focused academic, political, social communities, as well as many others who are here today and stand with us in saying ... sexuality matters. To close, I wish to read the quotation from the front-piece of the special issue which is taken from the recent maiden speech to Parliament of Maryan Street MP: 'Only a cringing, unassertive democracy retains its power by excluding others and stripping them of their place in it. As a lesbian, I have been the subject of other people's efforts to push me to the margins, to erode my legitimacy as a citizen, and to belittle my efforts and achievements. I have never accepted marginalisation; it is a construct of others who wish me to be marginalised.'"