Goodman's research referenced in court decision decriminalizing homosexuality in India's capital city

In its July 2 landmark decision decriminalizing homosexuality in India's capital city, which could lead India's government to appeal to the Supreme Court or change the law nationwide, the Delhi High Court referenced the research of Professor Ryan Goodman.

“In his well researched study of the impact of the sodomy laws on homosexuals in South Africa, [Goodman] argues that condemnation expressed through the law shapes an individual’s identity and self-esteem,” the Court wrote. “Individuals ultimately do not try to conform to the law’s directive, but the disapproval communicated through it, nevertheless, substantively affects their sense of self-esteem, personal identity and their relationship to the wider society.”

According to the Court, Goodman’s field research, published in his 2001 California Law Review article, "Beyond the Enforcement Principle: Sodomy Laws, Social Norms, and Social Panoptics," suggests that sodomy laws produce regimes of surveillance that operate in a dispersed manner and that such laws “serve to imbed illegality within the identity of homosexuals." He argues that such laws reinforce public abhorrence of homosexuals and result in an erosion of self-esteem and self-worth in numerous ways, the Court wrote.

Goodman, who just joined the NYU Law faculty from Harvard Law School, is also an associated member of the department of sociology and an affiliated member of the department of politics at NYU.

Posted on July 10, 2009