CUHK LAW CCTL Comparative Public Law Research Forum Seminar – ‘From Cosmopolitan to Self-Preservation: Courts and LGBTQ Rights in the 21st Century’ by Prof. Rehan Abeyratne (Online)
24 Nov 2023
1:00 pm – 2:00 pm
Rehan Abeyratne is Professor and Associate Dean (HDR) at Western Sydney University (WSU) School of Law. His primary research area is comparative constitutionalism, with a regional focus on Asia. He is working on a book titled From Cosmopolitan to Self-Preservation: Courts and LGBTQ Rights in the 21st Century (forthcoming with Oxford University Press). Prior to joining WSU, Professor Abeyratne was on the CUHK LAW faculty for six years and served as Executive Director of the Centre for Comparative and Transnational Law from 2020-22.
Around the world, liberal constitutionalism faces a crisis in confidence and, in some cases, an institutional crisis too. Courts have been captured or side-lined, limiting their independence and exercise of judicial review. Even where courts have not been entirely neutered, public and scholarly confidence in them has declined and the project of global constitutionalism – in which courts played a leading role – is now marginalized. Yet, courts have continued to take centre-stage and issue progressive judgments in one area: the rights of LGBTQ persons. Courts have, inter alia, struck down bans on same-sex relations, and recognized various rights of same-sex couples, including marriage. Why are these rights exceptional? And what explains such progressive judgments in the broader context of judicial regression? This seminar explores these questions through the LGBTQ rights jurisprudence of the United States, India, and Hong Kong.