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Just gardens? : On parks as spaces of law and morality

Bengtsen, Peter LU (2012) Critical Legal Conference 2012
Abstract
In this paper I discussed the garden of justice as a physical and social space in which law and morality become manifest.



My point of departure was a number of sites like the park Ørstedsparken in Copenhagen, which are, or have been, spaces where homosexual men meet up to have sex. The use of these outdoor spaces as cruising areas connects to the idea of the garden as a space which affords the opportunity to get lost in nature, both in terms of the spatial context and in a bodily (sexual) sense.



In response to the homosexual use of specific parks, authorities have been known to cut down bushes in order to expose (and thereby prevent) this natural, instinctive behaviour – a return to order (law) and... (More)
In this paper I discussed the garden of justice as a physical and social space in which law and morality become manifest.



My point of departure was a number of sites like the park Ørstedsparken in Copenhagen, which are, or have been, spaces where homosexual men meet up to have sex. The use of these outdoor spaces as cruising areas connects to the idea of the garden as a space which affords the opportunity to get lost in nature, both in terms of the spatial context and in a bodily (sexual) sense.



In response to the homosexual use of specific parks, authorities have been known to cut down bushes in order to expose (and thereby prevent) this natural, instinctive behaviour – a return to order (law) and potential justice. The desire to expose those who retreat to public parks to have sex, even if they are hidden and are not hurting anyone in the process, suggests that the real problem may be the hiddenness itself, perhaps because it represents a space which can be perceived as extralegal in a formal sense. Here it is interesting to consider the informal implications that this use of space has on the perception of safety and – by extension – law. For instance, unlike many other types of illegal activity, the use of parks as cruising sites means that they in some cases come to be seen as safer recreational areas for women than other parks, because the male homosexual use is perceived as precluding other types of illicit activity (e.g. heterosexual rape, robbery, drug dealing).



Additionally, while the cutting of bushes can be seen as a physical manifestation of the presence of law, the specific targeting of homosexual cruising sites may point to a moral aspect of justice. Given that it is no longer possible to suggest the removal of homosexual desire in people, could the cutting down of bushes at gay cruising sites be a surrogate way of imposing moral law upon those who fall outside of heteronormativity? (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to conference
publication status
published
subject
keywords
cruising, homosexuality, homosexual, gay, parks, law, morality, heteronormativity, spatial justice
conference name
Critical Legal Conference 2012
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
226ae797-008e-4d2f-8755-7295e3ec6ade (old id 2545049)
alternative location
https://www.academia.edu/2960594/Bengtsen_P._2012_._Just_Gardens_On_Parks_as_Spaces_of_Law_and_Morality
date added to LUP
2012-09-21 11:04:06
date last changed
2016-08-15 09:19:11
@misc{226ae797-008e-4d2f-8755-7295e3ec6ade,
  abstract     = {In this paper I discussed the garden of justice as a physical and social space in which law and morality become manifest.<br/><br>
<br/><br>
My point of departure was a number of sites like the park Ørstedsparken in Copenhagen, which are, or have been, spaces where homosexual men meet up to have sex. The use of these outdoor spaces as cruising areas connects to the idea of the garden as a space which affords the opportunity to get lost in nature, both in terms of the spatial context and in a bodily (sexual) sense.<br/><br>
<br/><br>
In response to the homosexual use of specific parks, authorities have been known to cut down bushes in order to expose (and thereby prevent) this natural, instinctive behaviour – a return to order (law) and potential justice. The desire to expose those who retreat to public parks to have sex, even if they are hidden and are not hurting anyone in the process, suggests that the real problem may be the hiddenness itself, perhaps because it represents a space which can be perceived as extralegal in a formal sense. Here it is interesting to consider the informal implications that this use of space has on the perception of safety and – by extension – law. For instance, unlike many other types of illegal activity, the use of parks as cruising sites means that they in some cases come to be seen as safer recreational areas for women than other parks, because the male homosexual use is perceived as precluding other types of illicit activity (e.g. heterosexual rape, robbery, drug dealing).<br/><br>
<br/><br>
Additionally, while the cutting of bushes can be seen as a physical manifestation of the presence of law, the specific targeting of homosexual cruising sites may point to a moral aspect of justice. Given that it is no longer possible to suggest the removal of homosexual desire in people, could the cutting down of bushes at gay cruising sites be a surrogate way of imposing moral law upon those who fall outside of heteronormativity?},
  author       = {Bengtsen, Peter},
  keyword      = {cruising,homosexuality,homosexual,gay,parks,law,morality,heteronormativity,spatial justice},
  language     = {eng},
  title        = {Just gardens? : On parks as spaces of law and morality},
  year         = {2012},
}