A shared interest in family legal pluralism: The potential of constructive alliances between religious and queer groups

18 September 2020 | 14:00 — 17:50


Do religious and queer groups have something in common they are overlooking when it comes to regulating families?

Various religious groups have shown an interest in promoting alternative family structures. Notable examples include the recognition of polygamy advocated by some Muslim communities and a splinter group within Mormons. Perhaps less known are the cases where religious conservatives (e.g. in Alberta, Vermont) introduced schemes that led to the recognition of cohabiting friends or relatives to downplay the LGBTQI+ agenda and marriage equality. Crucially, all these reforms are aligned with the queer groups’ interest in resisting the assimilation into the narrow marital family that comes with marriage.

Building on this perceived potential for a convergence of interests in the field of family law, the conference will bring together experts in family legal pluralism, with a background in either religious pluralism or queer theory. The two overarching themes that will be addressed are (their potential common interest in) the introduction of non-marital regimes and recognition of non-dyadic relationships.
The aim of the workshop is to facilitate a dialogue so as to build a theoretical framework for the creation of constructive alliances between queer and religious groups in the realm of family law.



Introductory remarks (2:00 – 2:15 pm)

Roberto Toniatti, Università di Trento
Marco Ventura, Università di Siena – FBK Center for Religious Studies


Presentation of the research project (2:15 – 2:30 pm)

Nausica Palazzo, Università di Trento – FBK Center for Religious Studies


Session no. 1: Marriage and non-marital regimes (2:30 – 4:00 pm)

Chair: Petr Agha, Center for International Courts, University of Copenhagen

Jeffrey A Redding, Shaikh Ahmad Hassan School of Law – LUMS
Personal status laws

Mariano Croce (partner), Università La Sapienza di Roma

Robin Fretwell Wilson (partner), University of Illinois
Disentangling marriage in the State

Antonio Vercellone, Università di Torino
Functional recognition: The case of Italy

Laura Kessler, University of Utah
Law and social movements for family equality: The case of Israel

Nicola Barker, University of Liverpool
Religion and sexuality in the Bermuda same-sex marriage litigation


Session no. 2: Recognition of non-dyadic relationships (4:10 – 5:30 pm)

Chair: Eva Brems, Universiteit Gent

Christian Klesse, Manchester Metropolitan University
Consensual non-monogamy and coalition politics

Federica Sona, Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology
Informal polygamy in Europe

Frederik Swennen (partner), Universiteit Antwerpen
Un-coupling family law

Frederick Mark Gedicks, Brigham Young University
Polygamy and Mormons

Beatrice Gusmano, Ca’ Foscari University of Venice
Queer friendship as a stable affect


Concluding remarks (5:30 – 5:50 pm)

Jeffrey A Redding, Shaikh Ahmad Hassan School of Law – LUMS


With its cross-sectional glimpse of the ways in which individuals nowadays live family and with its attempt to bridge perspectives –religious and queer–  traditionally framed as incompatible, the workshop aligns with the core mission of the FBK Center on religion and innovation, as articulated in the Strategic Plan 2019-21 and in our booklet Religion & Innovation at FBK.

Workshop organized within the postdoctoral research project “Ipotesi di nuovi assetti di pluralismo giuridico in materia familiare in ordinamenti della Western legal tradition”/“Enhancing family legal pluralism in Western legal systems”, funded by the University of Trento and Fondazione Bruno Kessler




  • Speaker
    Università di Trento – FBK Center for Religious Studies
  • Roberto Toniatti
    Università di Trento
  • Marco Ventura
    Università di Siena – FBK Center for Religious Studies
  • Petr Agha
    Center for International Courts, University of Copenhagen
  • Jeffrey A Redding
    Shaikh Ahmad Hassan School of Law - LUMS
  • Mariano Croce (partner)
    Università La Sapienza di Roma
  • Robin Fretwell Wilson (partner)
    University of Illinois
  • Antonio Vercellone
    Università di Torino
  • Laura Kessler
    University of Utah
  • Nicola Barker
    University of Liverpool
  • Eva Brems
    Universiteit Gent
  • Christian Klesse
    Manchester Metropolitan University
  • Federica Sona
    Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology
  • Frederik Swennen (partner)
    Universiteit Antwerpen
  • Frederick Mark Gedicks
    Brigham Young University
  • Beatrice Gusmano
    Ca' Foscari University of Venice
  • Jeffrey A Redding
    Shaikh Ahmad Hassan School of Law - LUMS


Registration for the event is mandatory by September 18, 2020, 9:30. The link to access the online workshop will be sent on September 18, 2020 via email.

Click here to register



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