Published on April 28, 2009 | by Andrew E. Berman
Hofstra Law Faculty, Fellows Advocate LGBT Rights on International Stage
Hofstra Law School, a pioneer in LGBT rights programming, is making an impact around the world. Led by Associate Professors of Law Elizabeth M. Glazer and Holning Lau, faculty and students in Hofstra Law’s LGBT Rights Fellowship Program are effecting change at home and abroad.
“Hofstra has emerged as a leader in training lawyers to advocate LGBT rights as human rights that transcend borders,” said Professor Lau, who is currently completing a project surveying approximately 800 self-identified sexual orientation minorities in Hong Kong. The data will be used for a report on the frequency and effects of discrimination.
Professor Glazer said, “Our initiatives merge Hofstra Law’s historical commitment to LGBT rights and transnational law.” Hofstra is one of a handful of law schools nationwide that requires first-year students to take a course in Transnational Law.
“Hofstra Law School runs an unprecedented fellowship program for students dedicated to advancing LGBT rights,” said Franca Sachs,Hofstra Law LGBT Rights Fellowship Coordinator.
The Fellows receive financial assistance as well as training and mentoring focused on LGBT rights advocacy. The eight current fellows are already making tangible differences, many concerning LGBT issues with a transnational dimension.
During this academic year, LGBT Rights Fellows Jennifer Wilson ‘09 and Heather Sarver ’09 successfully represented a client from Trinidad and Tobago who sought asylum based on sexual orientation. The Fellows managed the case through the Hofstra Law Asylum Clinic.
Wilson may soon continue her work on LGBT asylum law on a full-time basis. The international organization Human Rights Watch has agreed to sponsor Wilson for a post-graduate project on LGBT asylum law, contingent upon a final funding decision from an outside source.
This summer, LGBT Rights Fellow Derek Tripp ’11 will work on the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex Initiative, launched by Global Rights, a Washington, D.C.-based human rights group that partners with local activists to challenge injustice and amplify new voices within global discourse.
LGBT Rights Fellow Eric Lesh ’11 will spend his summer in Belgium, working with the International Lesbian and Gay Association, a world-wide network of national and local groups dedicated to achieving equal rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people.
Fellow Frank Salamone ’08 was a finalist in the UCLA Dukeminier Writing Contest for his paper on comparative advocacy strategies for couples’ rights, studying U.S. and Norway. He presented the paper at Hofstra’s Queer Exoticism Symposium. Salamone, currently clerking for a federal judge, also worked on LGBT asylum claims.
To deepen their understanding of LGBT rights in transnational contexts, Wilson and another LGBT Rights Fellow, Patrick Paschall ’10, studied sexual orientation and gender identity law at the University of Amsterdam last summer, in a program coordinated by Whittier Law School.
Professors Glazer and Lau taught at the summer program in Amsterdam. They also serve on the program’s advisory board. Hofstra Law School was one of two official sponsors of the Amsterdam program’s Continuing Legal Education session, a three-day course offering attorneys the opportunity to earn up to 17 units of MCLE credit while studying transnational LGBT issues.
Lau and Glazer also organize Hofstra’s Colloquium on Law & Sexuality, designed to advance cutting edge scholarship on the rights of sexual minorities. This year, the colloquium included lectures on international and comparative law. For example, Professor Kees Waaldijk of Leiden University in the Netherlands presented “Methods for Comparative Research on Sexual Orientation Law” and Pace Law School Professor Darren Rosenblum presented “Unsex CEDAW (Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women).”
Lau has published research on LGBT rights in Asia in the Northwestern Law Review and the Harvard Journal of Law and Gender. In March, he presented this research at conferences at UC Davis and UCLA. Lau served on the Steering Committee for the UCLA conference, which was titled “The Global Arc of Justice: Sexual Orientation Law around the World.”
Later this year, Lau will discuss LGBT rights advocacy at a conference at the University of Hong Kong. Lau incorporates global perspectives into his current class on Sexuality and the Law and has previously taught a class titled International and Comparative Perspectives on Law and Sexuality.