Sexuality at the bar panel


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:

  • homophobia in the workplace
  • whether (and how and where) barristers were ‘out’;
  • the potential connections between sexuality and practice; and
  • 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.

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