Religion, Sexuality and Oppression. 2nd Meeting of the SOHR Project. Friday 15th January - Sunday 17th January 2016: London: UK

Friday, January 15, 2016 - 7:30am to Sunday, January 17, 2016 - 12:30pm

Religion, Sexuality and Oppression
2nd Global Meeting of the SOHR Project

Call for Participation 2016

Friday 15th January – Sunday 17th January 2016
London, United Kingdom

As conservative ideologies infused by religious doctrines continue to hold sway in societies across the globe, the women, gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) people remain primary subjects of oppressive laws and practices. The freedom to hold or not hold religious beliefs is an important human right. However, when personal religious beliefs form the basis for policies and practices that affect the public at large, the results can often lead to the marginalisation and oppression of those whose gender, sexual orientation or lifestyle are considered ‘sinful’, 'unnatural', unholy or even evil. The rise of the religious right in the United States, for example, has precipitated legislative and judicial action aimed at rolling back women’s reproductive freedoms and blocking efforts to protect gays, lesbians and transgendered people from discrimination. Right-wing Christian groups have also been influential on the international level, where their resources were directed to support anti-gay causes such as the Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Act 2014 (also known as the “Kill the Gays” Bill) in Uganda and the “no” side in the recent Irish referendum to recognise same-sex marriage. In Latin America the growth of the neo-pentecostal fundamentalism has been visible through a number of different actions, for example, the attempt from an evangelical congressman to create legislation that would allow Brazilian’s psychiatrists to treat homosexuality as a disease (“gay cure”). Similarly the Russian Orthodox church played an important role in creating a hostile environment where gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered people are subjected to physical violence at the hands of Orthodox activists and police and where it is now a criminal offense to publicly promote LGBTIQ rights.

The connection between religious doctrine and sexual oppression is by no means limited to Christian traditions. Diasporic communities in Europe and elsewhere have come under criticism for imposing Sharia Law or strict interpretations of Jewish Law to restrict the conduct of women and punish infractions in a manner that violates provisions enshrined in secular law. And although radical Islamist groups Boko Haram and the Islamic State in Syria and the Levant have attacked a range of targets in their missions to create an Islamic state, the respective tactics of kidnapping and enslaving Nigerian schoolgirls and subjecting women and gay men to ritual torture and execution provide chilling examples of the extreme cruelty visited upon human beings because of their gender or sexuality.

Within every faith tradition there is a multiplicity of viewpoints and just as some faith-based traditions have spearheaded oppression, others have been ardent defenders of social justice. The Evangelical Network, Unitarian Universalism and various other organisations and denominational churches around the world have established themselves as leading proponents of equal rights and LGBTIQ inclusion. Thus the relationship between religious beliefs and violence against marginalised groups is a complex one that raises questions about how societies can negotiate that relationship to ensure that the arc of history does, indeed, bend toward justice.

Those questions form the focus of the 2nd International Conference on Sexual Oppression and Human Rights. While proposals for presentations on any aspect of sexual oppression will be considered, the organisers particularly welcome proposals dealing with the relationship between religion and sexual oppression of women and LGBTIQ people. In order to facilitate rich, inter-disciplinary dialogues, the organisers invite the participation of activists, representatives of NGOs and religious groups, lawyers, civil servants, artists, writers, filmmakers, clinicians, doctors, scholars and individuals who have direct experience as either victims or facilitators of oppression. Presentations, informal talks, performances, workshops, directed discussions, screenings and other types of interactive engagement might address themes such as:

    Philosophical and theological debates that inform sexual oppression
    Contemporary and historical case studies on religion and sexual oppression
    Activist/oppositional movements involved in religiously-motivated sexual oppression
    Analysis of how institutional conditions facilitate sexual oppression based on religious beliefs
    Engagements with the relationship between religion and sexual oppression in literature, drama, film, theatre, television, art and music
    Uses of television stations and Internet as a powerful media to spread religious beliefs against women’s rights and reinforcing sexual oppression
    Economic/business implications of sexual oppression driven by religious beliefs
    Clinical/psychological perspectives on those who persecute and suffer persecution, including analyses of the groupthink guiding religious groups
    Legal and Governmental responses, including justifications for committing and prosecuting acts of sexual oppression
    Educational implications: revealing/concealing oppression in curriculum, training students to understand sexual oppression, the content of homeschooling curriculum around sex, gender and exploitation, etc.
    First-hand accounts of experiences with sexual oppression
    Types and purposes of punishment
    Best-practice approaches for negotiating conflicts between religious beliefs and the rights of women and LGBTIQ people (including approaches employed by religious groups)

Our hope is that this event will grow into a wider research-orientated set of activities, to include symposia, workshops, courses and schools centred explicitly on analysing Sexuality, Oppression and Human Rights. Such activities seek to include a wide range of diverse perspectives, insights and practices, drawing from governmental, artistic, academic, business, professional, and voluntary sectors.

For further information please visit:

What to Send
300 word abstracts, proposals and other forms of contribution should be submitted by Friday 14th August 2015. All submissions be minimally double reviewed, under anonymous (blind) conditions, by a global panel drawn from members of the Project Team and the Advisory Board. In practice our procedures usually entail that by the time a proposal is accepted, it will have been triple and quadruple reviewed.

You will be notified of the panel’s decision by Friday 28th August 2015.
If your submission is accepted for the conference, a full draft of your contribution should be submitted by Friday 11th December 2015.

Abstracts may be in Word, RTF or Notepad formats with the following information and in this order:

a) author(s), b) affiliation as you would like it to appear in programme, c) email address, d) title of proposal, e) body of proposal, f) up to 10 keywords.
E-mails should be entitled: Religion Sexuality Oppression Abstract Submission

Where to Send Abstracts should be submitted simultaneously to both Organising Chairs:

Organising Chairs:
Karla Bessa:
Rob Fisher:

This event is part of the Sexuality, Oppression and Human Rights inclusive interdisciplinary research and publishing project.
It aims to bring together people from different areas and interests to share ideas and explore various discussions which are innovative and exciting.

It is anticipated that a number of publishing options will arise from the work of the project generally and from the meeting of Religion, Sexuality and Oppression stream in particular. Minimally there will be a digital eBook resulting from the conference meeting. Other options, some of which might include digital publications, paperbacks and a journal will be explored during the meeting itself.

Inter-Disciplinary.Net believes it is a mark of personal courtesy and professional respect to your colleagues that all delegates should attend for the full duration of the meeting. If you are unable to make this commitment, please do not submit an abstract for presentation. Please note: Inter-Disciplinary.Net is a not-for-profit network and we are not in a position to be able to assist with conference travel or subsistence.


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