'Dogs are "registered", people shouldn't be': Legal consciousness and lesbian and gay rights

Rosie Harding*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Citations (Scopus)


In this article I examine lesbians' and gay men's attitudes towards the legal recognition of same-sex relationships, using the theoretical framework of legal consciousness. I first provide a brief overview of the legal consciousness literature, before outlining some of the critiques of legal consciousness. Lesbian and gay legal consciousness is then examined through an analysis of qualitative responses to a large-scale online study of perceptions of and attitudes towards same-sex marriage and the legal recognition or regulation of same-sex relationships. Responses are analysed using thematic analysis to elaborate on five main themes within these data: formal equality, the relationship between legal and social change, the naming of legally recognized same-sex relationships, human rights discourse and citizenship claims. I argue that legal consciousness studies can help to interrogate the pervasiveness of discourses around formal equality and discrimination in the ways in which lesbians and gay men think about, use and position themselves in relation to law.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)511-533
Number of pages23
JournalSocial and Legal Studies
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2006

Bibliographical note

Copyright 2006 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Citizenship
  • Equality
  • Human rights
  • Legal consciousness
  • Lesbian and gay rights
  • Same-sex marriage

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Social Sciences(all)
  • Law


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