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Dr Stuart Green, Distinguished Professor of Law, Rutgers University

Professor Green will present a talk based on a chapter of his most recent book Criminalizing Sex (OUP 2020). He explains:

'In this talk, which is based on the final two chapters of my recently published book, Criminalizing Sex: A Unified Liberal Theory (OUP, 2020), I will consider two offenses that have been largely neglected in the criminal law theory literature. In bestiality, the “victim” is a non-human animal. In necrophilia, it is a human corpse. I will argue that neither is the type of entity that is capable of consenting to sex in the first place, and it is thus illogical to think of such sex as being nonconsensual. Such cases are therefore conceptually and normatively distinguishable from those in which the victim is a living human being who happens to lack the capacity to consent (say, because she is unconscious). To say that bestiality and necrophilia involve aconsensual sex, however, is not to say that such conduct should necessarily be decriminalized. Rather, my claim is that neither offense fits neatly into the liberal paradigm, according to which consent and nonconsent mark the line between criminalizable and noncriminalizable sex. In a preliberal system of criminal law, bestiality and necrophilia were criminalized on moralistic grounds. If their criminalization is to be justified today, we must reconceptualize them in a way that is consistent with liberal principles.'