Same-sex marriage and the sexual hierarchy: constructing the homonormative and homoradical legal identities

Maine, Alexander (2019) Same-sex marriage and the sexual hierarchy: constructing the homonormative and homoradical legal identities. Doctoral thesis, Northumbria University.

Text (Doctoral Thesis)
maine.alexander_phd.pdf - Submitted Version

Download (18MB) | Preview


This thesis investigates the impact of the Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Act 2013 in England and Wales on the lived experiences of LGBTQ individuals. The Act, which legalised same-sex marriage in England and Wales, is argued to contribute to a ‘sexual hierarchy’ in which certain forms of sexuality and sexual identity are ascribed value by law and society. This is significant in developing understanding of the law’s role in constructing and regulating sexual behaviour.

The thesis contributes to studies in gender, sexuality, and the law, and in family law, in providing a seminal qualitative assessment of the 2013 Act using queer theory. In doing so, it constructs homonormativity and the homoradical as identities existing within the sexual hierarchy. Not only does this thesis investigate the impact of the Act, it also assesses the lived experiences of LGBTQ individuals in relation to the passing of the legislation – including their views on equality, normativity, and sexuality. As such, it significantly adds to existing LGBTQ narratives.

Utilising semi-structured interviews with 29 self-identified LGBTQ individuals, the thesis is qualitative in nature. It uses mixed-method sampling to create rich interview data and unique visual data. Applying a queer theory analysis, the study has found that the 2013 Act reinforces the sexual hierarchy in the construction of the homonormative and the homoradical as concurrent LGBTQ identities.

In constructing the sexual hierarchy, this study has made visible the ways in which same-sex marriage reinforces and upholds heteronormative institutions. It confirms marriage to be a social and legislative organiser that reaffirms the centrality of the legal regulation of sexuality and the construction of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ sexuality. The thesis will argue that consummation requirements should be abandoned as a precursor to further reform to disestablish the sexual hierarchy, thereby advancing social acceptance of LGBTQ identity and non-normative sexuality.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Socio-legal, family law, gender, sexuality, law, queer theory, LGBTQ
Subjects: L900 Others in Social studies
M100 Law by area
M200 Law by Topic
M900 Other in Law
Department: Faculties > Business and Law > Northumbria Law School
University Services > Graduate School > Doctor of Philosophy
Depositing User: John Coen
Date Deposited: 06 Mar 2020 15:33
Last Modified: 31 Jul 2021 19:30

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics