Book Review: LGBTQ2+ Law: Practice Issues and Analysis.

Several times each month, we are pleased to republish a recent book review from the Canadian Law Library Review (CLLR). CLLR is the official journal of the Canadian Association of Law Libraries (CALL/ACBD), and its reviews cover both practice-oriented and academic publications related to the law.

LGBTQ2+ Law: Practice Issues and Analysis. Edited by Joanna Radbord. Toronto: Emond, 2020. xxvii, 607 p. Includes table of cases and index. ISBN 978-1-77255-432- 8 (softcover) $136.00; ISBN 978-1-77255-433-5 (digital) $116.00.

Reviewed by Sally Sax
Collections Librarian (Business, Public Affairs, Legal Studies)
Carleton University
In CLLR 45:2

LGBTQ2+ Law: Practice Issues and Analysis adopts a comprehensive, intersectional approach to practical legal issues affecting LGBTQ2+ individuals. LGBTQ2+ Law discusses procedural aspects of civil and criminal law in detail, and these are contextualized within the broader history of LGBTQ2+ rights in Canada. Personal narratives at the end of every chapter provide real-world examples of how both a lack of legal protection and the results of legal advocacy have impacted individual lives. With this approach, general editor Joanna Radbord has produced a volume that is sensitive, inclusive, and relevant to a much wider audience than a typical practitioner’s handbook.

The first two chapters detail the evolution of Canadian laws affecting LGBTQ2+ rights and sensitize the reader to cultural considerations when working with or on behalf of those identifying as LGBTQ2+. Chapter 2 in particular provides a valuable reminder not to generalize about LGBTQ2+ communities, stating that “some identities (such as ‘two-spirit,’ ‘queer,’ or ‘trans’) serve as umbrella terms that can represent a wide variety of lived experiences … [and] gender and sexual orientation are not separate from other cultural aspects such as race, ethnicity, and socio-economic class” (p. 34).

Issues around language and intersectionality are further examined in Chapter 3, which focusses on federal and provincial human rights claims and defences. Chapter 4 provides a thorough discussion about the equality provisions outlined in section 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, cautioning that “[c]onstitutional litigation is a massive undertaking—a huge investment of a lawyer’s time and of the community’s hopes” (p. 109). This chapter, written by Radbord, details the many factors counsel and claimants must consider prior to, and during the course of, a Charter challenge.

The legal rights of trans people are given their own treatment in Chapter 5, as this is a rapidly evolving area of law. Specific concerns regarding changes to identity documents are addressed here, as is the awareness criminal lawyers need to maintain surrounding the sentencing, incarceration, and medical care of trans clients. Immigration issues specific to trans individuals who may be vulnerable to persecution in their country of origin are introduced here for the first time (these are further elaborated upon in Chapter 10).

Chapter 6 provides an overview of family law, detailing the areas in which LGBTQ2+ families have gained significant rights. However, it is also made clear that LGBTQ2+ individuals still face barriers to full participation in aspects of family life such as parenthood, particularly with regard to assisted reproduction. Chapter 7 examines how polyamorous and non-dyadic relationships intersect with aspects of criminal and family law. The information in this chapter would be useful to lawyers working with anyone in these relationships, including cisgender heterosexual individuals. Chapter 8 briefly touches upon the conflict of domestic and foreign laws affecting LGBTQ2+ family matters.

Chapter 9 discusses estate planning, while Chapter 10 covers immigration issues in depth, beginning with a history of Canada’s approach to LGBTQ2+ immigrants and refugees. Chapter 10 then moves into some of the more common concerns practitioners will face when working in this area of law. Chapter 11 discusses children and youth legal issues, which span human trafficking, immigration, family law, and the ongoing efforts to make educational systems safer for, and more inclusive of, LGBTQ2+ students.

Finally, Chapter 12 examines criminal law and public health issues at length, discussing the ways in which LGBTQ2+ individuals continue to face discriminatory attitudes by authorities within the justice system. There is an extensive treatment of the jurisprudence regarding HIV transmission and the non-disclosure of HIV positive status.

LGBTQ2+ Law: Practice Issues and Analysis will be of great use to practitioners working in the fields of immigration, family, and criminal law, as it provides an excellent starting point for legal research in these areas. The various contributors have adopted a writing style that makes the content accessible not only to students and teachers of law, but also to those engaged in history, gender, or sexuality studies, among other disciplines. Service providers, such as those in medicine or social work, may also find useful legal information and context that may assist them when working with LGBTQ2+ clients. Given its wide readership potential, LGBTQ2+ Law: Practice Issues and Analysis would be a valuable addition not only to law libraries, but to any academic or public library.

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