About GLaD

The Gender, Law and Drugs (GLaD) program draws on social scientific and legal research methods to develop new critical, socio-legal understanding of gender, sexuality, health and drugs.

Established by ARC Future Fellow and practising lawyer Associate Professor Kate Seear in 2021, the program builds on the leading role played by Australian researchers in the critical study of alcohol and other drugs by championing work with an explicit focus on the links between alcohol and other drugs, gender and the law.

Key research questions the program seeks to explore include:

  • How does the law constitute the role of alcohol and other drugs in major social problems such as family violence and sexual assault?
  • How do these legal approaches constitute gender, agency and responsibility?
  • Do legal enactments of alcohol and other drugs differ across areas of law (e.g. family law, criminal law), and how might these differences matter?
  • Are legal conceptualisations of the agency of alcohol and other drugs gendered?
  • Are legal conceptualisations of the agency of alcohol and other drugs shaped by ideas about sexuality, sexual pleasure or desire?
  • How, in turn, does the law shape public understandings about gender, sexuality, sexual pleasure or desire?
  • How does human rights law conceptualise alcohol and other drugs use, gender and rights?  
  • Can human rights law be mobilised to guide drug law reform, or is human rights law shaped by problematic and outmoded ideas about gender?
  • If so, what would a more gender-sensitive or ‘post–human rights’ conceptualisation of drug laws look like?
  • How does the law understand the agency of women, trans and gender diverse people who consume and supply drugs?
  • Are legal approaches to health problems that are associated with drugs gendered?
  • How does gender shape ideas about virality, transformation, epidemics and change?

To answer these and other questions, the GLaD program brings together critical analyses of law and drugs from feminist perspectives, queer theory, science and technology studies and other theoretical traditions, and draws on interdisciplinary research methods from sociology, cultural studies, gender studies and anthropology, among others. Beyond its mission to develop critical drug scholarship in Australia and internationally, the GLaD program seeks to directly inform the design of legislation, policy and social service practice in ways that improve alcohol and other drug-related health and social outcomes in Australia.

The GLaD program is funded through an Australian Research Council Future Fellowship grant, and supported by La Trobe University. It is based at the Bundoora Campus of La Trobe University, Melbourne.