Griffith Law School student Daniel Marcantelli has won the Honourable Michael Kirby Award for his essay on the legal construction of identity.
Former Justice of the High Court of Australia, Michael Kirby AC CMG presented Daniel with the award at the Griffith Law School on September 10, before giving an address on marriage equality at the Michael Whincop Memorial Lecture at the State Library of Queensland.
“The award is a great honour,’’ Daniel said.
“Michael Kirby commands a great deal of respect from the legal fraternity, particularly its younger members and I am very pleased to be associated with his name.”
Daniel wrote the essay as part of the course ‘Sexual Citizenship in the Law’ which examines how sexuality is constructed, monitored and controlled through the law.
He argued that while the law demands that everyone has an identity, there can be “a great distinction between what constitutes our identity and what identities have legal currency”.
“For example, it creates a problem for transgender or intersex people who challenge our heteronormative assumptions,’’ he said.
“This is problematic since we often need law to provide us with protection and recognition in order to be part of society.”
Daniel’s essay concludes with the suggestion that law move to a model that doesn’t consider identities permanent, fixed, or falling into narrow categories.
“Rather it would treat them as ultimately meaningless for its purposes – just something that it needs to protect and respect for our purposes.”
As managing editor for three years and later chair of the Griffith Journal of Law and Human Dignity, Daniel credits much of his intellectual growth to time spent there.
“I highly recommend the experience to all students, regardless of their professional ambitions.
“It provides a great deal of experience in communication, and editorial and research activities and provides precious insight into the process of knowledge creation. It is a heavy commitment, but one that definitely pays-off.”
The Honourably Michael Kirby Award is the first award of its kind in Australia. Established in 2008, the award celebrates and acknowledges the achievements of Griffith Law School students and alumni who have advanced the principles of justice, equity and equality as related to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex issues.