Brownlie v Four Seasons Group
In January 2020, I was fortunate enough to give birth to a beautiful, healthy baby boy. As far as I know, I am the first partner at Kingsley Napley (although certainly not the first employee) who has a baby who is lucky enough to have two mums. News of my pregnancy was met with overwhelming support from my colleagues. That support continues to this very day, and my wife and I remain truly grateful for the kindness that has been shown to us. However, since falling pregnant I have learnt that not all workplaces are as supportive to same-sex parents as mine. The concept of two mums or two dads starting a family is something that some people still struggle to get their heads around. So this year, for our KN Pride blog series, I have decided to explain the questions, that speaking from my own experience, it is not helpful to ask of same-sex parents.
This is undoubtedly, hands down, the worst question of them all.
A child born to same-sex parents has two parents, both equal in status. The fact that one parent is responsible for any of the following:
Does not give them a higher status in the parental hierarchy.
In our family, my role in carrying and giving birth to our son allowed me to call in a few favours from my wife in the hours and days immediately following his birth. I may even be guilty of delegating the first few messy nappy changes. Save for that, I can assure you that my wife and I have always been, and are in all ways equal in our love, connection and care for our son.
This is an interesting one. Before asking this question of a same-sex parent, ask yourselves how many times you have asked this question of a different-sex parent. I suspect never. Call me old fashioned, but in my view this really is none of your business.
If you were to ask my close friends and colleagues about the journey that we took to start our family then they would tell you that we are happy to share our experience with those who have a genuine interest, often because they are also struggling with fertility issues, or otherwise just because they are people that we feel comfortable sharing this personal information with.
The point is … think about why you may be asking this question, think about the nature of the relationship you have with the person and the forum in which you are asking the question and don’t ask if you really don’t need to know. Or better still, wait for them to share with you, which I am sure they will do, if they want to.
Our son has a donor and not a father.
Our son’s donor has: no parenting responsibilities, no financial responsibility, he is not named on the birth certificate and most importantly has no emotional connection to our little boy. We chose him from a vast catalogue of donors and we have never met him.
One day, when our son is aged 18, he will be entitled to access identifying information about his donor. Should he choose to make contact with his donor then we would of course support him and we would hope that that meeting is a positive experience.
Do not get me wrong, our donor is a very special person. He has been essential in helping us create the most precious thing (to us) in The World. But, he is not, nor will he ever be the father of our son.
Does this seem like an incredible question to you? It does to me. Yet, without a word of a lie, one of my friend’s colleagues asked her this question in a team meeting. Even if this was said in jest, it is truly unforgiveable.
For clarity, my wife and I are both mums; to our son I am Mama and my wife MamaLou (which our son abbreviates to Mamou, making her sound like a protective bear from the Jungle Book… which actually is not too far from the truth). Our son will thrive because he will grow up in a loving and supportive family, and that family has two mums. In short, a child does not need a ‘mummy’ and a ‘daddy’ to be happy.
It’s really quite simple. You simply explain that all families are different. Some have a mum and dad, some have either a mum or a dad, some (the few lucky ones) have two mums and two dads and some have a different combination altogether. Having open, honest age-appropriate conversations with kids is to be encouraged. In fact, you are welcome, if any confusion caused by our family structure has provided an opportunity for you to have a meaningful discussion with your kids about important topics like sexual orientation and healthy relationships.
Um, sorry what are ‘dad’ activities and what are ‘mum’ activities? I was unaware that activities are gendered. Aren’t they just activities?
It is true to say that, on balance, ‘Mamou’ has better sporting prowess than I, so should that mean that she can be of more use to him when it comes to standing on the side of a football/rugby pitch in the freezing cold of winter, then I may be gracious enough to stand aside and let her do so. It is also a fact that our son shares a birth day with Christian Dior and Balenciaga. So should he show a natural flair for clothing design then I’ve already set the expectations in our family that he’ll be designing my new season wardrobe before hers.
Also, if you were worried that our son won’t have positive male role models in his life then I can assure you there is no need for your concern. When you are part of the LGBT community, friends become an essential part of your life. As LGBT individuals we have a history of feeling different and that experience means it is even more critical to surround ourselves with people who truly accept who we are. Our son has many gay, straight, black, white, neurodiverse men in his life. If he turns out to be half the man that our precious male friends are then our parenting of him will have been an overwhelming success.
See it’s really quite simple. Just don’t ask the questions that you wouldn’t otherwise ask any other different-sex parent.
So all that remains is for me to say “thank you” to those colleagues and friends who have made us feel like we know what we are meant to do with this new responsibility and for making our little boy feel so treasured. Our family wishes you all a safe, Covid-free, Pride.
Melinka Berridge is a regulatory and criminal lawyer specialising in the fields of private prosecutions private prosecutions , health and safety , licensing and professional discipline . She has considerable experience of working in the leisure & hospitality, built environment and charity sectors.
Melinka leads the team at Kingsley Napley responsible for bringing private prosecutions . She helps individuals, corporates and charities to commence criminal proceedings when the state prosecuting agencies are unable or unwilling to act. Melinka is highly ranked in the legal directories in the field of private prosecutions.
The visibility of the “B” in our LGBTQ+ umbrella is marked every year on 23 September. At Kingsley Napley, we are proud to have bisexual members of our LGBTQ+ and Allies Network and strive for everyone to feel like they can be themselves and bring their whole selves to work. Outside KN, and in this year alone, Robin has come out as bisexual in the new Batman comic, more awareness has been raised about bisexuality with celebrities, such as Megan Fox, Lily Cole, speaking out and there is more representation of bisexual people in mainstream shows, such as Sex Education, Brooklyn Nine-Nine.
Trans adults with full decision-making capacity have the freedom to secure hormonal and surgical interventions to align their bodies with the physical attributes typical of the gender with which they identify (a process known as “transitioning”). However, for those who lack capacity, the involvement of others who are responsible for making decisions on their behalf is required, and the position can be complex as a result. This blog explores the approach to making decisions relating to transitioning on behalf of protected trans people, applying the best interests test and guidance from case law, and discussing the practicalities for decision-makers.
When I told some of my friends I was writing a piece about drag activism, their reaction was almost unanimous…
"Oh, but, is there much to say?"
That's when I realised that drag queens, for many, are more synonymous with big hair and lip-syncing pop hits rather than political consciousness and activism. You can certainly understand the reason for this - we have been totally spoiled in recent years with the explosion of Ru Paul’s Drag Race around the world - the make-up, talents and confidence being a feast for the eyes (and the soul). But we cannot minimise the political importance of Mama Ru’s creation. Who could forget numbers such as “Shady Politics”; the discussions of gay conversion therapy while applying make-up; and Bob the Drag Queen describing his arrest during a 2011 marriage equality protest? Not to mention Nancy Pelosi sashaying into the All Stars season…
Coming out is an extremely personal journey and will be unique to each person. It takes a lot of courage to come out and a person may have to repeatedly do this in their personal and professional lives. Statistics show that 46% of people who identify as lesbian, gay and bisexual and 47% of people who identify as trans feel comfortable to discuss their orientation or gender identity.
How can you put the spotlight on intersectionality to remind others that, even within the LGBTQ+ community, not everyone is treated equal?
Are you proud of who you are, your journey and the person that you’ve become? Do you truly wear your heart on your sleeve? For some, being open and honest about who we are (which includes our gender identity or sexuality) does not come easily and can be extremely hard. It can be even tougher at work, and for those that hide their true self, the energy expenditure is endless. That survival cost of energy makes you less productive, or even worse still, it has a detrimental impact on your mental and physical health.
I am a trans woman who has recently embarked on her transition. Having only taken my first steps on this journey, I am acutely aware when writing this that I have much to learn about myself, about being trans, and about the diverse LGBTQ+ family that I now find myself part of. However, there is one theme that I feel is important to discuss as we celebrate Pride in 2021.
Following on from my colleague Sameena Munir’s blog ‘’pray the gay away: cull conversion therapy worldwide’’, the issue of gay conversion therapy dominates contemporary conversations surrounding LGBT politics and legislation in the UK, but the Government has failed to deliver on its promise to ban it.
For two weeks during Pride month, Kingsley Napley are publishing a series of blogs to celebrate Pride and highlight LGBTQ+ issues from home and abroad.
It’s been 9 years since R&B artist Frank Ocean headed off rumours about his particular pronoun usage in the album Channel Orange by posting on Tumblr that his first love had been a man. Since then, the momentum for the openness and success of queer artists has continued to gather pace, and LGBTQ+ representation in the arts and mainstream media is as wide as it has ever been. This rise has however raised important questions about pigeonholing queer artists, and perhaps most interestingly whether they must always shoulder the responsibility of ‘pushing the agenda’.
In February this year, I attended a virtual talk held by the InterLaw Diversity Forum for LGBT+ History Month. The speakers featured individuals working in the legal sector and each discussed their experience of coming out as trans or non-binary at work. It feels an apt lesson given this year’s Pride theme: Visibility, Unity and Equality.
In January 2020, I was fortunate enough to give birth to a beautiful, healthy baby boy. As far as I know, I am the first partner at Kingsley Napley (although certainly not the first employee) who has a baby who is lucky enough to have two mums. News of my pregnancy was met with overwhelming support from my colleagues. That support continues to this very day, and my wife and I remain truly grateful for the kindness that has been shown to us. However, since falling pregnant I have learnt that not all workplaces are as supportive to same-sex parents as mine. The concept of two mums or two dads starting a family is something that some people still struggle to get their heads around. So this year, for our KN Pride blog series, I have decided to explain the questions, that speaking from my own experience, it is not helpful to say to same-sex parents.
Tomorrow, global organisations across the world are celebrating Global Pride, and I wanted to write to say how much it means to us at Kingsley Napley to celebrate Pride and to support our LGBTQ colleagues.
On sitting down to write this blog, I was a little embarrassed. When you actually take the time to think about drafting legal documents in a way that is gender neutral, it seems to me that the question isn’t why do this, but why not?
In 2012 we formed an LGBTQ* & Allies network at Kingsley Napley (KN). I’m ashamed to say that the impetus to form this network came not from within, but from Scott, a new joiner who upon his arrival was surprised, and critical (rightly so) to find that no such network existed at KN.
The UK spouse visa has been the subject of frequent criticism and has rarely been out of the news since the rules surrounding it were completely changed in 2012. This is predominantly as a result of the stringent and often exclusionary financial requirements imposed. However, when you take a look at the basic relationship requirements imposed by this route, it is exclusionary in an unexpectedly discriminatory way.
This Sunday marks International Day against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia. On this day, over 130 countries around the world draw attention to the various forms of discrimination and violence that the LGBTQ community continue to experience. It serves as a reminder each year of the work which is still needed to achieve LGBTQ equality. David Sleight, a Partner and ally, at Kingsley Napley shares his experience below.
Now is a more important time than ever to be a visible ally to LGBTQ people in the workplace. Discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation continues to take place, often with disastrous ramifications for individuals and businesses.
The current government lockdown is making everyone aware of their living arrangements. Relationships are being put under new pressures and the current emotional and financial impact of the virus may be causing additional stresses in a relationship. It is a sensible time to make sure you understand how you own your property and the implications of such ownership.
There are countless instances of LGBT+ individuals being stigmatised and discriminated against throughout history, including in criminal law. In particular, a number of sexual acts between men have historically been criminalised. This homophobic legislation was compounded by an insidious approach to investigations, which targeted men who were believed to be gay, leading to a large number of men being criminalised, with all of the consequences that a conviction brings, for behaviour that should never have been illegal in the first place.
On the eve of the new decade, 31 December 2019, the first mixed-sex couples officially entered into civil partnerships, granting them the same legal protections as in marriage.
When you cast your mind back to last summer, you may have hazy memories of enjoying an aperol spritz during the heat wave, listening to Lewis Capaldi on every radio station, or your attempts to desperately avoid buying plastic bottles and single use cups.
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