Gwyn Evans has organised the first meeting of the Gray’s Inn LGBT+ Society
20th May 2019
This is a panel session, at 6pm on Wed 22 May 2019, entitled ‘LGBT+ inclusion at the bar – “what it means and how it can be achieved”. The panel members are Brie Stevens-Hoare QC (Hardwicke) and S Chelvan (No 5 Chambers). The panel will be discussing issues surrounding sexual orientation and gender identity at the bar, and considering the statistics in the Bar Standards Board’s diversity report (https://tinyurl.com/y5trwo2z).
Gwyn Evans said “In February I attended an Interlaw Diversity Forum event hosted by Pinsent Masons in the City. Two representatives from Stonewall gave an excellent presentation about Stonewall’s ‘workplace equality index’ (see https://www.stonewall.org.uk/uk-workplace-equality-index). Stonewall describe this as the ‘definitive national benchmarking exercise showcasing Britain’s top employers for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender staff’. The top 25 ranked organisations in the legal sector were announced. I asked why there were no barristers chambers in the top 25. The response was that there were known problems with inclusion at the bar! In fact only 2 or 3 sets of chambers had even made submissions to be adjudicated upon by Stonewall. Given the fact that diversity at the bar does not seem to reflect diversity in society (be that in terms of gender, ethnicity, social background or LGBT+ inclusion), there is a lot of work for us barristers to do to break down entry barriers and work on inclusion strategies. I am an elected member of Gray’s Inn Barristers’ Committee, to which the LGBT+ society will report, and which is the “voice of Hall”. I think that this is a wonderful opportunity to show that Gray’s is an inclusive Inn, and works to support and nurture its LGBT+ students, staff and barristers”.
Verity Bell, a fellow Gray’s Inn LGBT+ Society committee member and residential scholar at the Inn added “Gray’s Inn LGBT+ Society aims to increase the visibility of LGBT+ barristers at all stages of their career. Bar-wide professional networks for LGBT+ barristers such as FreeBar and the Bar Lesbian and Gay Group (BLAGG) of course already exist to promote this important aim. However, we felt that Gray’s Inn is uniquely situated to engage LGBT+ students studying the Bar course and GDL and demonstrate the diversity which exists across the profession. Above all, we felt that the establishment of the LGBT+ Society would affirm Gray’s Inn as a welcoming and inclusive place for everyone.
Fellow LGBT+ Society member Richard Leiper QC added “Gray’s has long been celebrated as a diverse institution, welcoming students and barristers from around the world. The formation of the LGBT+ Society formalises the openness that is at the heart of the Inn. But it also allows us the opportunity to focus on supporting LGBT+ members and on ensuring that practical steps are taken so that inclusivity is not simply an ideal but is a reality for everyone. We would like best practice to be rolled out through our members to all chambers, so that everyone is able to flourish at the Bar. The Society will also allow people to share their experiences, to learn from one another, and to ensure that real progress is being made. Serious aims, but in the convivial atmosphere for which Gray’s is famed.”
To sign up for the
event follow the instructions on this page https://www.graysinn.org.uk/calendar/lgbt-society-lecture