This two-day conference brought together activists, academics and practitioners to assess how human rights law and practice in the UK interacts with issues concerning gender and sexuality. The conference was organised by the Centre for Law, Gender and Sexuality, Liberty and the Legal Action Group. It was funded by the Modern Law Review and keynote speakers included Maya Sikand, author of "ASBOS: A Practitioner's Guide to Defending Anti-Social Behaviour Orders" , who specialises in criminal defence work, crime related civil work, judicial review and extradition.
Some of the central questions that the conference asked included:
* whether and how litigation on gender/sexuality and human rights can be effective in the long-term;
* whether the problems associated with making rights claims are outweighed by how useful they can be; and
* what lessons we can learn from other jurisdictions (for example South Africa and Canada) about litigation and campaigning.
The aim of the conference was to establish a meaningful dialogue across activism, academia and legal practice. We drew plenary speakers from a range of occupational backgrounds. Each conference panel combined speakers from activism and academia, with the aim of breaking the traditional "conference" mould.
The conference combined an analytical attitude to rights litigation with an open, and collaborative attempt to think creatively about how to use human rights arguments to achieve substantive goals. We:
* drew together campaigners, academics and legal practitioners who either already work on gender and/or human rights, or whose area of focus might usefully accommodate a human rights dimension, for example campaigners working on criminal justice and prisons;
* took an innovative approach to discussing gender and human rights issues, bringing about a mutually beneficial dialogue across disciplinary and professional boundaries; and
* opened up the discussion of gender and human rights to consider issues that are not currently at the forefront of debate. For example, what are the human rights implications if a taxation system impacts women in a negative way?
The conference report on the proceedings on 5 and 6 January 2007 are available from the link below.