QAL1013 | Queerness and the Law

Course Information

  • 2020-21
  • QAL1013
  • 5-Year B.A., LL.B. (Hons.), LL.M.
  • III, V
  • Mar 2021
  • Elective Course

The present course is offered as an optional Elective and aims to study the intersections of law and queer individuality/queer communities. It looks at how social conventions and legal policy govern, regulate, and recognise queerness, and how the latter responds to its socio- legal treatment.

The course will try to uncover how the image of the ‘Queer’ is constructed and reinforced between social ideas, cultural identities, and the law. Queerness here refers to forms of sexuality and gender expressions that fall outside accepted imaginations of societal existence. This would include gender identities beyond the male-female binary, inter-community expressions of intimacy, same sex intimacy, and chosen family structures.

The course will also explore how queer individuals and communities have engaged with the law to have forms of expression and existence recognised. The language of rights now formally covers several aspects of queer existence. While it is crucial to study the causative factors of the turnaround in legal treatment of queerness, the course will also cover the effects of legal recognition on ideas of queerness itself. It is worth studying whether identities are now being tailored to achieve aspirational homogeneity, which seeks forms of recognition in the law that mirror conventionally non-queer social structures. In this sense, we will look at whether legal recognition and the language of rights works to limit the radical potential of queerness, to more palatable and socially acceptable forms, that carry forward non-queer ideas of propriety and culture.

The course is designed to engage with inter-disciplinary literature. Students will be expected to read sociological, literary, and legal texts. A part of the course material will also be visual, in the form of excerpts from cinema and archival footage.

Classroom instruction will be based on discussion of pre-assigned materials, and also engagement with civil society activists.


Kunal Ambasta

Assistant Professor of Law