Full equality under the law exists or is ‘within spitting distance’ for LGBT people, as those attending the Gazette’s roundtable acknowledge and celebrate. But if the law no longer disadvantages people on grounds of sexual orientation, the attitude, misapprehension and conduct of others can and does. There is work to be done on hearts, minds and (in the legal profession) the work environment.
Attendees were unanimous in their insistence that ‘visibility’ is important here. The clear and emphatic support of straight colleagues helps signal that an organisation is a ‘safe space’, but the ultimate test is whether LGBT lawyers are comfortable being out and if visible role models exist.
In that context, are LGBT categories within our diverse workplaces characteristics that should be measured, monitored and published? Or is this a private matter where such an exercise places people at risk of identification and discrimination?
Such well-intentioned discretion (the current policy of, among others, the Bar Standards Board) is surely the right course – for, say, 1967, or at a push 1997. The clear line from those who this discreet approach is supposed to protect is that it is not appropriate in 2017 – it is, in fact, counter-productive.
Visible support signals to LGBT lawyers that they can be comfortable and will therefore be valued for their legal skills. That is surely a win for a profession that has fairness as a defining value.