“I’m thrilled to know that such a fellowship even exists – and honoured beyond words to have received it,” says Marie Dry.
While she was researching her doctoral studies options, the summa cum laude graduate of Sciences Po Paris says McGill clearly stood out from any others. The Faculty’s interdisciplinary culture fitted well with her proposed methodology. McGill’s comparative law doctoral track would enable her to study Quebec and French laws critically. And above all, she knew that her research subject would not only be accepted, but encouraged and supported.
Marie Dry is the inaugural recipient of the LGBT Purge Fund Fellowship, which supports student research focused on 2SLGBTQ+ rights. Holder of a BA in Political Sciences, an Advanced Certification in Gender Studies, and a Master’s in Economic Law, she previously worked at the World Bank Group as a legal analyst for the Women, Business and the Law project. Co-supervised by McGill Law and Université Paris Nanterre, she is now studying law reforms in Quebec and in France aimed at better including 2SLGBTQ+ families.
“In the past two decades, we’ve seen numerous changes in family law, many partially aimed at improving 2SLGBTQ+ inclusion – but this hasn’t allowed all families to enjoy the same level of legal protection, or to even be able to constitute their family project,” she explains.
Take medically assisted reproduction, for example. In Quebec and in France, cisgendered homosexual women can legally conceive a child with medical assistance (a recent achievement in France). However, neither jurisdiction allows for more than two parents on a birth certificate. Families having a child with the help of a donor can’t use the birth certificate to give legal status to the donor’s relationship with the child. And cisgendered gay men who aspire to start a family face greater hurdles, as both France and Quebec have yet to provide a legal framework for surrogacy.
“My intuition is that underlying societal assumptions are at play in Quebec and in France alike – about what a family is, and what a parent is,” Dry says. Drawing from feminist and queer legal theories, she will aim to understand why legislative efforts have so far failed to protect all families, and not impose a rather rigid family structure.
The fellowship Dry received is one of two student awards established at McGill Law by the LGBT Purge Fund. The other – the LGBT Purge Fund Experiential Learning Award – supports practical experiences related to 2SLGBTQ+ rights. Second-year law student Ashli Au has become its inaugural recipient. Holder of a BA in Legal Studies and Human Rights, she is interested in how law impacts marginalized groups, particularly gender and sexual minorities, and in corporate environmental, social and governance practices. From May to August 2023, Au will complete an international internship aimed at reviewing international laws and norms relating to the rights of marginalized people in her host country.
The LGBT Purge Fund is a non-profit organization founded after a historic settlement between the Canadian government and survivors of what has become known as the “LGBT Purge” – four decades during which the Canadian Armed Forces, the RCMP and the federal public service systematically discriminated against 2SLGBTQ+ employees as a matter of sanctioned practice. It administers funds allocated to reconciliation and memorialization measures by the settlement. Last year, a $250 000 grant was given to McGill Law to promote student engagement towards 2SLGBTQ+ justice.
“Coming on the heels of IMK LLP’s creation of the Michelle Douglas Lecture and the Martine Roy Student Colloquium, and the establishment of our Everett Klippert Scholarship, this grant confirms the stature of McGill Law as an extraordinarily exciting place for students committed to justice for minorities of sexual orientation and gender identity,” said Dean Robert Leckey, Ad E, when the LGBT Purge Fund awards were announced.
Un lieu d’échange entre la recherche et l’activisme
En 2022, sous l’intitulé « The Accidental Legal Activist », Michelle Douglas a offert l’édition inaugurale d’une conférence nommée en son honneur. Plus tôt le même jour, quatre membres de la communauté étudiante ont présenté leurs recherches au colloque Martine Roy, sous le thème « Vers l’égalité et la justice pour les personnes LGBTI ».
Toutes deux des survivantes de la « Purge LGBT », Michelle Douglas et Martine Roy ont joué un rôle de premier plan pour obtenir l’abolition des pratiques discriminatoires anti-LGBT qui étaient en place dans l’appareil fédéral et obtenir réparation du gouvernement.
La conférence Michelle Douglas et le colloque Martine Roy créent un espace pour faire progresser l’égalité et l’accès à la justice pour les communautés LGBTQ à travers la recherche et l’engagement étudiant. Ils sont offerts grâce au soutien permanent d’un généreux don d’IMK Avocats, qui a représenté les survivantes et survivants de la purge LGBT lors de leur recours collectif. La prochaine édition de cette conférence et de ce colloque biennaux aura lieu au cours de l’année universitaire 2023-2024.
Everett Klippert Entrance Scholarship
“There is a lot of pride surrounding the recent achievements of 2SLGBTQ+ communities, but there is still much to be done to improve the lives of marginalized 2SLGBTQ+ people.”
That’s what prompted Samuel Singer, BCL/LLB’09, LLM’11, to approach Dean Robert Leckey a few years ago with the idea for a new entrance scholarship: one that supports outstanding students who have demonstrated a commitment to working on issues facing marginalized members of 2SLGBTQ+ communities.
In a true grassroots effort, 40 2SLGBTQ+ folks and allies supported the fundraising initiative chaired by Dean Robert Leckey, and several law firms matched gifts by their employees.
The scholarship was named after Everett Klippert, who was arrested and imprisoned in the mid-1960s after he admitted to having consensual homosexual relations. His high-profile case shone a light on the extreme injustice of Canadian laws, helping to lead to the partial decriminalization of homosexual acts in 1969.
The Everett Klippert entrance scholarship was officially launched at the Faculty in May 2019, during the two-day symposium On the Margins of Trans Legal Change, and has since been presented annually to an outstanding incoming BCL/JD student.