Sunday, 9 October 2011

Homophobia and the Legal Profession

The Guardian carried a really interesting piece on Thursday from Alex Aldridge (check out one of his podcasts in my earlier blogpost here).  He notes that the judicial appointments committee (JAC) – the body founded in 2006 to enhance judicial accountability – has begun to monitor the sexuality of wannabe judges (it already monitors gender, ethnicity, age, professional background and disability). He also notes that the JAC is also increasing its engagement with the gay lawyer community through talks at LGBT legal events (yes, they do exist) and the publishing of case studies of gay judges.

I remain concerned that many of these efforts are London based and as Aldridge highlights in his piece, even in London, homophobia appears evident, so how fares gay lawyers in the so called 'provinces'?

He also notes the growing number of law firms now included in Stonewall's index of gay-friendly employers (six in the recent list).  Whilst this is probably a sign of progress, I remain deeply critical of this survey as a box ticking exercise.  Have an LGBT group - excellent.  The survey doesn't take account of how often such a group meets, or how vibrant it is (instead terms of reference and other such worthy documents are produced).  It's a human resources dream, good at forms, and writing policies, you're in.  This is, of course, better than nothing but a more rigorous process is needed if we want to see real demonstrable change.  In case, you think I'm being too cynical, check out the 2012 workplace equality index criteria here.

Aldridge also notes the regular complaint among legal LGBT groups that they are dominated  dominance  by 'a certain type of confident gay man'. Apparently, just 30% of the Lesbian and Gay Lawyers Association (LAGLA) members are female.

Check out the full piece here.

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