Sexuality at the Bar

Sexuality at the bar

Like the other branches of the legal profession in England and Wales, the Bar does not reflect the society it serves. In their world-first research, ‘Sexuality at the Bar’, Marc Mason and Steven Vaughan (UCL) show a variety of complex practices which govern where (and when and how) LGBT+ members of the Bar feel comfortable being open about their sexuality as well as highlighting that half of LGBT+ barristers responding had experienced discrimination on account of their sexuality and 28% had experienced work related bullying or harassment. Their work suggests an increasing role for Bar-specific LGBT+ networks and the value of LGBT+ role models, both at the Bar and in the judiciary. 

The project

In 2016, Mason and Vaughan launched an online survey to capture the career experiences of LGBT+ members of the Bar. This was completed by 126 practising barristers, Queens Counsel, pupils (barrister trainees), and students taking the pre-vocational Bar Professional Training Course.

The survey focused on four main areas:

(i) homophobia in the workplace

(ii) whether (and how and where) barristers were ‘out’;

(iii) the potential connections between sexuality and practice; and

(iv) the purpose of LGBT+ networks and role models.

Following the survey, Mason and Vaughan used the data they had captured to build a range of questions for semi-structured interviews. 38 of these took place in the latter half of 2016: 2 with pupil barristers; 4 with students; 5 with QCs; and 27 with barristers.

A report of key findings was presented on 25 September 2017, and the data will be used for further journal publications.

Download the report (PDF)

For more information, please contact Marc Mason at [email protected]

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