York-led global project to examine criminalization of sexual orientation


Nancy Nicol’s team receives $1 million to study LGBT human rights around the world

TORONTO, March 31, 2011 — York University visual arts professor Nancy Nicol will lead a major international project on the impact of criminalizing sexual orientation and gender identity, with $1 million in funding over five years from the Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC).

The award will fund Envisioning Global LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) Human Rights, a collaborative project that will foster international research links between Canada and the global south. Nicol, a professor in the Faculty of Fine Arts and faculty associate in York’s Centre for Feminist Research, will lead a 22-member research team as they explore how LGBT and human rights groups resist criminalization of sexual orientation and gender identity.

The researchers will also study the implications for human rights policy formation, social services, and immigration and refugee policies.

Envisioning will capture and contribute to history-in-the-making of distinct but linked struggles at a key moment of national and global change,” says Nicol. “Our strategic alliance of partners has proven capacity in international LGBT human rights work, with grass roots partners in Canada and the global south. Our work will combine documentary and participatory video with qualitative interviewing, focus groups, legal data research and analysis and a limited use of surveys. We plan to make a unique contribution to documenting and analyzing criminalization, asylum and resistance to criminalization within and beyond regions.”

Community-University Research Alliances (CURA) awards, among the largest awarded by SSHRC, bring postsecondary institutions and community organizations together as equal research partners to jointly develop new knowledge and capabilities, provide research training opportunities, and enhance the ability of social sciences and humanities research to build knowledge in areas that affect Canadians and their changing communities.

“York has developed a strong record in leading national and international collaborative research projects on key social issues,” said Stan Shapson, vice-president Research & Innovation. “Through its connections to the Faculty of Fine Arts, Osgoode Hall Law School, the Centre for Feminist Research and the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies’ Department of Sexuality Studies, this project reflects the interdisciplinary strengths York offers in human rights research and the success of our researchers’ collaborative focus with local and global partners.”

Nicol’s research team includes 22 researchers and 32 partner organizations. The co-applicants include four York Professors: Enakshi Dua, director of the Centre for Feminist Research; Jennifer Hyndman, associate director of the Centre for Refugee Studies; Nick Mulé and David Murray.

Gary Goodyear, Minister of State (Science & Technology), announced the funding on March 25. Nicol’s project is one of nine large-scale research projects funded through SSHRC’s CURA program at a total cost of $8,993,254.

“These grants highlight the excellence of our country’s talented researchers and recognize the importance of fostering collaboration to keep Canada at the leading-edge of research, development and innovation in the 21st century,” said Chad Gaffield, president of SSHRC.

For a complete list of CURA awards, visit the SSHRC Web site.

Project Partners:

  • Africans In Partnership Against AIDS (APAA)
  • Alliance For South Asian AIDS Prevention (ASAAP)
  • ARC International
  • Black Coalition for AIDS Prevention (Black Cap)
  • Center for Feminist Research, York University
  • Coalition of African Lesbians
  • Egale Canada
  • Forum for Empowerment of Women (FEW)
  • Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya (GALCK)
  • Global Alliance for LGBT Education (GALE)
  • Inside Out Toronto LGBT Film and Video Festival
  • International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC)
  • International Lesbian and Gay Law Association (ILGLAW)
  • Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-Sexuals and Gays (J-FLAG)
  • Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals of Botswana (LEGABIBO)
  • Mark S. Bonham Centre for Sexual Diversity Studies
  • Naz Foundation (India) Trust
  • Naz International Foundation in conjunction with Maan AIDS Foundation
  • Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants (OCASI)
  • Ontario Research and Innovation Optical Network (ORION)
  • Osgoode Hall Law School, York University
  • Pride Uganda Alliance International (PUAI)
  • Rainbow Health Ontario
  • Sangini (India) Trust
  • Sexual Minorities Uganda
  • Sexuality Studies Department, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, York University
  • Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD)
  • The 519 Church St. Community Centre
  • The Inner Circle
  • United and Strong
  • United Belize Advocacy Movement (UNIBAM)
  • University of Witwatersrand


Media Contact:

Elizabeth Monier-Williams, Research Communications, York University, 416 736 2100 x21069 / eamw@yorku.ca