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‘Repugnant’: Homosexuality and criminal family law
University of Toronto Law Journal  (IF1.234),  Pub Date : 2020-06-01, DOI: 10.3138/utlj.2019-0051
Robert Leckey

Fifty years after Canada's partial decriminalization of gay sex, this article pursues two aims. First, it complicates understandings of the reform as a rational, liberal move to divert the criminal law from private, victimless conduct, in line with the image of removing the state from bedrooms. It does so by thematically rereading the House of Commons debates. Even the leading reformers insisted that homosexuality would remain illegal and laboriously affirmed their disgust for it. Second, the article reads the measures on homosexuality as part of the larger enterprise of defining and protecting the family by criminal means – criminal family law. Such prohibitions are typically studied separately, but they are a key part of how the state regulates family and they show abiding anxieties and insecurities. The article reminds scholars and students to read behind the legislative text and to look beyond legal categories to seek broader patterns in the exercise of repression and other state power through law.