Netherlands, Nijmegen

A Human Rights Perspective on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

when 3 August 2020 - 7 August 2020
language English
duration 1 week
credits 2 EC
fee EUR 600

This summer school course aims to create insight into human rights law as it applies to sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and sex characteristics (SOGIESC) issues. It will identify key challenges and ways in which members of the LGBTIQA+ community do not yet fully and equally enjoy their human rights, and analyse the relevant legal standards in that regard. Specifically, it will be studied how the interpretation of those standards has developed (i) at a legislative level, (ii) in the case-law of national and international courts, and (iii) in soft law instruments and quasi-judicial decisions, and whether those developments have been moving towards or rather further away from full equality. The course will discuss instruments of international law as well as evolutions at the national level, but the primary focus will be on the European level. The relevant case law of the European Court of Human Rights and the Court of Justice of the European Union will be analysed extensively.

Key topics include:

• The concept of ‘personal autonomy’, and its link with SOGIESC rights;
• Non-discrimination, including on the labour market and in social security issues;
• Family rights, including same-sex marriage, civil unions and adoption;
• Freedom of expression and association, e.g. in the context of “gay propaganda” legislation and the organisation of pride parades;
•The legal recognition of gender identity;
•Sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression as a basis for refugee protection;
•The rights and needs of transgender people.

Throughout the entire course students will be challenged to critically participate in class discussions. In addition (at least) one full ‘litigation’ session will completely rely on student input. Students will be expected to do research on a specific topic, develop their own legal reasoning, and present it during an in class simulation of a political/diplomatic debate or a moot court.

Course leader

Dr. Johan Lievens, Assistant Professor
Department of Constitutional and Administrative Law,
Leuven Centre for Public Law
VU Amsterdam, University of Leuven

Target group

• Advanced Bachelor
• Master
• PhD
• Professional

The course is targeted at people with an interest to study sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and sex characteristics. The main approach used in the course will be legal. We welcome students who wish to learn more about the role of the law, more specifically of human rights law, in different aspects surrounding the lives of LGBTQIA+ people, ranging from the role of SOGIE in asylum policy, over employment discrimination, to family rights.

Course aim

After this course you are able to:

1. Understand the evolving interpretation and the legal value of different legal sources and standards related to sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and sex characteristics.
2. Identify the main human rights issues related to sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and sex characteristics (anno 2020).
3. Critically assess the role of LGBTQIA+ issues in policy of (European) governments regarding g. asylum, legal recognition of relationships, adoption, gender identity and social policy.
4. Indicate the role of different international actors, such as the United Nations, the European Court of Human Rights and the European Union, in the field of human rights protection of LGBTQIA+

Fee info

EUR 600: The fee includes the registration fees, course materials, access to library and IT facilities, coffee/tea, lunch, and a number of social activities.


We offer several reduced fees:
€ 540 early bird discount- deadline 1 March 2020 (10%)
€ 510 partner + RU discount (15%)
€ 450 early bird + partner + RU discount (25%)

Register for this course
on course website