The Magistrates Association has set up a dedicated group to support its LGBT+ members and show that sexuality or gender identity are not barriers to joining the judiciary.
The association, which has 14,000 members, said research by Stonewall in 2013 found that half of LGBT+ people would expect to face barriers to becoming a magistrate.
Tom Quarton-Manuel, chair of the association’s LGBT+ Group, said: 'Along with the Young Magistrates, Magistrates with Disabilities and BAME groups, the LGBT+ group was formed to provide opportunities for magistrates from traditionally underrepresented parts of society to network and discuss the issues that may affect them or other court users in the day-to-day business of the court.
‘We also want to demonstrate that sexuality or gender identity is no barrier to becoming a magistrate and that the justice system works best when mixed and diverse voices are represented in the decision-making process.
‘Despite the many advances over the years in respect of LGBT+ rights and the law, there is a clear need for those who identify as LGBT+ to feel able to become magistrates and contribute to the administration of justice in their local communities.'
Magistrates make up 85% of the judiciary and deal with over 90% of all criminal cases. In a foreword to the Judicial Diversity Action Plan 2020-2025, the lord chief justice said a more diverse judiciary would 'help cement the confidence of the public that the judiciary broadly reflects society'.