Not `Social Justice': The Housing Association, the Judges, the Tenant and his Lover Fitzpatrick v. Sterling Housing Association  4 All E.R. 991;  1 F.L.R. 6 (C.A.);  4 All E.R. 705 (H.L.)
Author: Sandland, R.
Source: Feminist Legal Studies, Volume 8, Number 2, 2000 , pp. 227-239(13)
Abstract:This note analyses the decision of the House of Lords in Fitzpatrick, which held that gay partners could fall within the legal definition of `family' for some purposes. The note argues that despite the real (if overstated) benefits that this case bestows on gay partners in the form of legal rights, under analysis, the decision self-deconstructs to reveal that it is grounded on the principle of discrimination on the basis of sexuality. However, it is also suggested that the encounter between discursive legal reasoning (underpinned by normative heterosexuality), and a version of the family which is `other' to this discourse, is one which leaves its mark on law, as the potential undermining or deconstruction of law's normative assumptions. The note further argues that although this decision is properly seen as a moment in the struggle for gay rights, it also serves as a reminder that the fortunes of critical theories and political movements that seek to challenge the legal paradigm of the white, heterosexual male are inextricably linked. Fitzpatrick, whatever else it is, is also an object lesson in the debt that current campaigns for gay legal rights owe to feminist critiques of, and campaigns that have successfully challenged, the role of this norm in legal discourse.
Document Type: Regular Paper
Affiliations: School of Law, University of Nottingham, Nottingham NG7 2RD, UK E-mail: Ralph.Sandland@Nottingham.ac.uk or Ralph.Sandland@care4free.net
Publication date: 2000-01-01