One-quarter of LGBTQ+ lawyers in England and Wales have experienced homophobia, biphobia, or transphobia in the workplace, a new survey from the Law Society shows as the legal professions prepare to celebrate Pride Month.
The research found a majority of lawyers who experienced discrimination at work did not report the incidents, either feeling the incidents were not serious enough to make a formal complaint about or that they lacked confidence a complaint would be resolved effectively.
The poll from the independent professional body for solicitors, which took place from 1 February 2021 to 28 February 2021, also found that only half (53%) of LGBTQ+ respondents always felt able to be themselves in the workplace – 41% sometimes felt able to bring their true selves to work.
However, in an encouraging sign of increasing inclusivity, 91% of respondents said they had supportive colleagues and active allies for LGBTQ+ equality in their workplaces.
The Law Society’s survey results, which will be published in full in July, come as solicitors, barristers, and legal executives in England and Wales mark Pride Month virtually again this year with the theme “Untold Pride”.
Pride Month occurs each June to commemorate the 1969 Stonewall riots, which sparked the fight for gay rights around the world, and recognise the impact LGBTQ+ people have had in communities around the globe. The covid-19 pandemic has meant many Pride celebrations have been limited to virtual events.
This year’s “Untold Pride” campaign from the legal professions aims to showcase stories from legal professions that are rarely told and will provide different perspectives from the LGBTQ+ community.
The experiences may focus on intersectionality, diverse experiences of coming out, or having gay parents, explained Law Society president I. Stephanie Boyce, who added that her organisation was proud to advocate for LGBTQ+ rights in the legal profession and in wider society.
“Now more than ever, we must continue to take a stand. Around the world, the covid-19 pandemic has had a significant effect on LGBT+ communities. It is vital to show the public that the legal profession will constantly and unequivocally support LGBT+ people and their rights,” Boyce said.
Derek Sweeting QC, chair of the Bar Council, said the LGBTQ+ legal community “plays an integral role in ensuring an inclusive and accessible justice system”, and the sharing of its untold experiences “offers a vital chance to highlight the different stories of our LGBT+ colleagues, as well as allowing us to reaffirm our commitment to supporting LGBT+ rights across the world”.
CILEX president Craig Tickner added: “There is still work to be done in combatting discrimination in the profession and in wider society. We want to send a clear message that we are all equal under the law and that we are an open and accepting profession, dedicated to upholding the rights of the LGBT+ community.”
Stonewall’s top global employers of 2020 contains several international law firms, including Allen & Overy, Baker McKenzie, and Freshfields.