Law is an important theme in contemporary lesbian and gay politics of violence and safety. Framed in terms of activism around ‘hate crimes’, Jenness and Broad (1997), writing about the USA, suggest that only through the adoption of new law can hate, ‘become a meaningful term and the victimization associated with the problem of hate crime [be] rendered apparent and clearly defined’ (p. 172; see also Jenness and Grattet 2001). A different angle, also drawn from the USA, is found in Shane Phelan (2001) on gay and lesbian citizenship. The problem of violence against gays and lesbians, she explains, is perhaps the clearest manifestation of the denial of law:

The most minimal elements of legal or ‘negative’ citizenship, in which citizens trade obedience to the laws in exchange for protection, are thus denied to legal citizens who fail to meet the sexual/gender requirements for effective membership.

(Phelan 2001:23)