Online: Feminist Lunch Series: Approaching Lesbian Legal History

Wednesday, February 24, 2021 at 11 AM EST
Price: Free
Public Anyone on or off Facebook
Please mark your calendars for the third talk of our virtual Winter 2021 Feminist Lunch Series in the Faculty of Arts to be given on Wednesday, Feb. 24 at 12:00pm via Teams by Karen Pearlston (Law at UNB).

The talk is titled: “Approaching Lesbian Legal History”

Sex between women was seldom criminalized in Anglo-Canadian law. In contrast, anal sex was explicitly prohibited from 1533, and “gross indecency” between men was criminalized in 1885. As a result, most legal histories of queerness focus on criminal law and therefore on men, and the legal history of women who have sex with women has been largely neglected. This talk will explain the distinctions between the criminal treatment of sex between men and the regulation of lesbianism in and through family law and then raise sociolegal and historiographic questions about lesbianism, law, and legal history.
Karen Pearlston has taught at UNB Law since 2002. She has published articles that interrogate the history of coverture (the rule that denied a legal personality to married women) and on the history of family law. In that vein, she has published “Avoiding the Vulva: Judicial Interpretations of Lesbian Sex Under the Divorce Act, 1968,” (2017) 32 Canadian Journal of Law & Society 37-53, and “’Something More’: The State’s Place in the Bedrooms of Lesbian Nation,” in No Place for the State: The Origins and Legacies of the 1969 Omnibus Bill, eds. Sethna &Dummitt (UBC Press, 2020). Karen was an organizer of the conference and campaign Anti-69: Against the Mythologies of the 1969 Criminal Law Reform and is active with Reproductive Justice NB.
To attend on Feb. 24th, click on the following link ( or email
All are welcome…please have your lunch with us!
Our virtual Feminist Lunch Series series will continue on March 17 with a talk by Angela Tozer, from UNB History. Our last talk of the series will take place on March 31. All are invited!
The Feminist Lunch Series is organized by the UNB Gender & Women’s Studies Program, the UNB/STU University Women’s Centre and the Office of the UNB Dean of Arts. Special thanks to Daniel Grant for technical help. For more information on the series, contact Sophie Lavoie (

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