Persecution of Sexual Minorities as Crimes Against Humanity

Thursday, October 10, 2019 13:00to14:30
Chancellor Day Hall Stephen Scott Seminar Room (OCDH 16), 3644 rue Peel, Montreal, QC, H3A 1W9, CA

The Centre for Human Rights and Legal Pluralism and the Fortier Chair in International Arbitration & Commercial Law welcome Valérie V. Suhr, University of Hamburg Law School. Professor Andrea Bjorklund will act as moderator.


Despite some great improvements in their legal as well as factual situation over the past decades, sexual minorities (LGBTI: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex) still face massive state and non-state violence in many places. The presentation analyses whether the worst human rights violations specifically directed at LGBTI are punishable under international criminal law, as codified in the Rome Statute (RS) of the International Criminal Court.

The focus lies on the question whether sexual and gender minorities—or at least parts of them—are covered by the crime of persecution, a crime against humanity codified in Article 7(1)(h) RS. Although sexual orientation and gender identity are not explicitly listed as prohibited grounds of persecution, “gender” is—along with “other grounds that are universally recognized as impermissible under international law.” Drawing on insights from gender studies on the social construction of gender, on the development of LGBTI human rights and on general rules of interpretation, the presentation will argue that sexual orientation and gender identify are included in the first, probably both grounds of persecution.

About the speaker

Valérie V. Suhr is a PhD candidate at the University of Hamburg Law School and a research fellow to Prof. Nora Markard, MA, who is also her PhD supervisor. She studied law from 2009 until 2015 at the University of Hamburg Law School and in 2011 at Leiden Law School as an Erasmus exchange student. She is currently a Michigan Grotius Research Scholar to the University of Michigan Law School. Previously, she was a visiting scholar at the Grotius Centre for International Legal Studies (Leiden University), the Irish Centre for Human Rights (National University of Ireland, Galway) and the Lauterpacht Centre for International Law (University of Cambridge, England). She is one of the editors of the international law blog voelkerrechtsblog.org. Her primary areas of research are international criminal law, human rights law and gender and law. Her research is supported by a fellowship of the Studienstiftung des Deutschen Volkes.

This event is eligible for inclusion as 1.5 hours of continuing legal education as reported by members of the Barreau du Québec.

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