Hassan Khan and Claire Fox, Co-Chairs of the Bar Lesbian and Gay Group, on expanding the remit of BLAGG.
Is it OK to be Gay at the Bar? Will the Bar Standards Board’s new Equality Rules make a difference?
In 2011, we became co-chairs of the Bar Lesbian and Gay Group (BLAGG) which was formed in 1994 by a group of students at the Inns of Court School of Law. We now have over 300 members across the profession including students, pupils, barristers and Queen’s Counsel. BLAGG’s primary aim is to support lesbians, gay men, bisexual and transgender members, at whatever stage they are in the profession, whether or not they are ‘out’ or if they simply wish to socialise and meet fellow members of the Bar. We provide information, advice and support, particularly to those wishing to join the profession.
‘It is clear that the legal sector is starting to make real efforts to address fair access and social mobility’, is a conclusion of the Independent Reviewer on Social Mobility and Child Poverty, Rt. Hon Alan Milburn, in his May 2012 progress report. However, ‘the further up the profession you go, the more socially exclusive it becomes.
David Pittaway QC, Chair of the Neuberger Monitoring and Implementation Working Group until the end of 2011, reports on the progress that has been made at the Bar in improving access to the profession.
Last September I took part in a filmed interview for a BBC2 programme on social mobility within the professions. Its working title was “Who stole the best jobs?” later changed to “Who has the best jobs?” The interview lasted 90 minutes and ended up on the cutting room floor. The content was apparently not sufficiently newsworthy. The actual momentum of change did not meet the perception of privilege. The broadcast programme focused on other professions with the Bar coming out of it relatively unscathed.
Fiona Jackson reports back from the anniversary dinner held at the House of Lords to celebrate twenty years of the Association of Women Barristers.
On Tuesday 4th October in the Cholmondeley Room of the House of Lords, our former President, Baroness Hale, hosted a memorable Dinner to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the founding of the Association of Women Barristers. Another former President, Lady Justice Arden, also joined with the Solicitor General, Lady Butler-Sloss, Baronesses Deech and Scotland, our current President, Mrs. Justice Cox, and members and other distinguished guests in toasting the success of the AWB in its many campaigns.
BLAGG provides both a social group and a support network for gay barristers. It also campaigns for equal rights, writes Christopher Rogers.
Unlike other minorities it is not immediately apparent whether someone is gay. Most minorities, whether women, ethnic minorities or the disabled, have spent decades battling for equal access to the Bar, whereas there have always been large numbers of gay barristers; the difficulty many have faced is in being comfortable being open about their sexuality.