As we invite you to join us at London and Cardiff this year, CILEx policy & public affairs manager Richard Doughty reflects on the legal sector’s joint presence at annual Pride events.
Last year, more than 100 LGBT+ lawyers and supporters took to the streets for London Pride along with thousands of others, less than two weeks after the massacre at an Orlando nightclub. The mood was defiant, determined, and hopeful.
The legal sector’s presence at Pride is ultimately about fairness and the fundamental principle that all are equal under the law. We feel it is important to state publicly, and in a united voice, that the legal profession stands up for everyone, including those who may be at greater risk of discrimination or unfair treatment. This is in the same way as the profession has supported campaigns for access to justice, the rights of women, the elderly, ethnic minorities, disabled people, or any other group that faces unfair barriers because of the practices and conventions of the society in which we live.
When preparing for Pride last year, I received an email from a long-standing practitioner asking me why it was so necessary to be highlighting these differences between people. ‘Can they do the job? That’s what matters,’ they said, not unreasonably. I sympathise with this view – why should any of the rest of it matter? It shouldn’t – but it does.
Can one reasonably expect a person to do their job if they are facing such circumstances? If you are not able to be truthful with your colleagues, if you are not safe, valued or respected in the workplace or in wider society, these things can inhibit or prevent you from performing to the best of your ability or achieving your full potential.
For those people who are in that position, they need to know that the legal profession is open enough for them to turn to for help. This is why we will march again in London and Cardiff this year. In defiance, in determination, and in hope. The legal bodies coming together with CILEx and the Law Society LGBT+ Division and Outlaw group include the Bar Council, the Bar Lesbian and Gay Group, the Interlaw Diversity Forum and Freebar.
Places on each Pride parade are limited – we recommend you register as soon as possible via the Law Society Events page to let us know that you want to march with us. Once all places have been allocated we will, as in previous years, be operating a waiting list.
Everyone is welcome.
A version of this piece was originally published in the August 2016