Senior lawyers tell gay students: ‘I don’t trust fags like you’

A new report suggests over half of LGBT lawyers in the UK are experiencing homophobic discrimination at work or while studying.

New research ‘Sexuality at the Bar’ shows one-third also experience some form of bullying or harassment too.

The joint-study is by the University of Westminster and UCL Centre for Ethics and Law. It is based on an online survey and interviews with 126 barristers and Bar students.

Much of the criticism focused on the most senior lawyers at the Inns of the courts. This is where the UK’s top barristers mentor junior students.

One respondent gave this evidence:

‘One of my fellow students was at an Inns’ qualifying session and was talking to a bencher who sort of jokingly or flamboyantly said, “I don’t trust fags like you”.’

‘Good gays‘ are more acceptable

Another trend that comes out of the report is gay lawyers were more likely to be out if they have a partner.

The report says: ‘a number of interviewees shared that they “outed” themselves by referring to their husband/wife/boyfriend/girlfriend.’

‘There was a suggestion that the “good gays” (who conform to heteronormative standards) were more acceptable at the Bar.’

The homophobia they are facing at work is also feeding into how open they are with clients.

The research shows that 4 in 5 were out to most of their family, friends, and other barristers in their chambers. However, only 1 in 4 (23%) came out to their clients.

Speaking to Gay Star News, one of the report authors Marc Mason says some lawyers keep their sexuality to themselves because they are supposed to be neutral ’empty vessels.’ Some told him that ‘anything that distracts from that is a problem.’

However, Mason says this has a damaging social effect: ‘If they are not out as LGBT, it’s not that they don’t have a sexuality, they get painted with the default option of being straight. This report asks questions about the way the bar and legal profession look like to the rest of the world.’

Worse than expected

Last night the industry gathered at the University of Westminster in London to discuss the report.

Mason tells GSN: ‘The levels of homophobia are worse than we hoped and expected.’

Mason says the hypocrisy of a profession aimed at speaking out for others, that wouldn’t speak up for itself was one of the topics of discussion:

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