Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Same sex relations, state crime and resistance

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posted on 2021-11-13, 12:29 authored by Gledhill, Cara

This thesis explores the criminalisation of same sex relations in a global context, using a framework which centres the state as criminal. It argues that criminalising laws serve as hegemonic dictates, which condone and encourage violence perpetrated by state officials, as well as private individuals. The form of these laws, the punishments they mandate and the harms that lesbian and gay individuals suffer due to the existence of criminalisation is critically examined. The thesis shows that international legal progress in the area of 'sexual rights' has been painstakingly slow and that civil society organisations (CSOs) have been the driving force behind much of the change that has occurred. States have also been able to deny, minimise and neutralise challenges by the UN concerning criminalisation. Jamaica, a state which criminalises consensual sex between men, is provided as a case study in order to examine the ways in which criminalisation laws emerge, and the contemporary social and cultural context which supports their continued existence. Despite the climate of heterosexism in Jamaica, the continued work of CSOs means that information about human rights violations can be dispersed through a number of networks, allowing challenges to take place in the international arena. The thesis concludes by arguing that, while the work of CSOs offers great potential for change in the area, international pressure to repeal criminalising laws and address related human rights violations must continue.


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Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline


Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Arts

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code

970116 Expanding Knowledge through Studies of Human Society

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Social and Cultural Studies


Stanley, Elizabeth; Jordan, Jan