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Polyamory – Practice, Identity, Law, and Sexual Orientation

A discussion into the practises and laws around polyamory from Dr Christian Klesse (MMU).
When May 17, 2017
from 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM
Where Committee Room, Sociology
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Polyamory has been conceptualised in manifold ways. Depending on speaker and/ or context, polyamory has been described as praxis, love style, relationship philosophy, discourse, identity or sexual orientation.

While there have always been differing interpretations among those who feel an affinity with the term, essentialist identity narratives have not had a lot of currency within poly circles for a long time. However, over recent years debates on the question as to whether polyamory is an inborn trait or a lifestyle choice have become more vocal. There is also a social-legal angle to this question. Legal scholars have come forward to explore the usefulness of defining polyamory as a sexual orientation for the sake of claiming rights for polyamorous people. For example, Sexual orientation arguments have been advanced in speculative theorising about anti-discrimination law and marriage law.

Is it possible to include polyamorous people into anti-discrimination laws that protect sexual orientation? Does farming polyamory as a sexual orientation help advancing marriage equality for multi-partner relationships and families?

This paper traces some of the lineages within the genealogy of an equation of polyamory with hegemonic sexual orientation models. It deploys poststructuralist ideas to show some of the shortcomings of sexual orientation discourses by highlighting the losses that are likely to follow from pragmatic definitions of polyamory as sexual orientation.

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