This time last year I wrote about why language matters and how as an LGBTQ ally it was my duty to speak up (#PrideMatters Minding my Ps and LGBTQs). What I’ve been thinking about this year in the run up to Pride 2019 is how much the ability to speak openly and freely is itself an important privilege.
The rainbow flag can be found in all sorts of places across London, from a British Airways rainbow wall at Heathrow, to the Sea Containers building whose river-front is covered in fluttering rainbow lights. But that’s London, and whilst my colleague Emily rightly highlights some of its problems in her article of earlier this week, it is one of the more open and inclusive cities.
And therein lies the privilege.
There remain many countries where same-sex marriage or relationships are not recognised, but many more where the position is even bleaker:
- In Brunei where the implementation of a law punishing gay sex or adultery by stoning was only suspended after an international backlash, and where the current punishment is up to 10 years imprisonment, even speaking up as an LGBTQ ally risks putting other people’s lives at risk.
- In certain states in Nigeria same sex sexual activity is punishable by death and in Gambia it can result in life imprisonment.
- Russia has a law banning spreading “gay propaganda” to under-18s which can include something as seemingly innocuous as displaying the rainbow flag and can result in arrest. There have been reports and allegations of abductions, imprisonment, torture and killings of people in the Chechen Republic based on their sexual orientation.
As such, the six LGBTQ activists who attended the 2018 World Cup finals in Russia and posed in famous settings wearing football shirts in the colours of the rainbow for a project called “the Hidden Flag” were doing more than just taking colourful pictures on location. Instead they had come up with a creative way to send a message of support to LGBTQ people in Russia without necessarily putting themselves in danger.
So I would like to modify my position from last year. Whilst I still strongly believe that language matters, and that those with privilege have an obligation to use it. However with great power comes great responsibility and sometimes words can put people in danger. Sometimes support is best given silently, subtly or with fabulously coordinated outfits - [See BBC article - World Cup 2018: Smuggling the Pride flag into Russia]
About the author
Mary Young is a partner in Kingsley Napley’s Dispute Resolution team. She is an active member of the firm’s Diversity and Inclusion and LGBTQ & Allies networks.
Latest blogs & news
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.
Three years on, the UK Government is still ‘’dragging its feet’’ about banning gay conversion therapy.
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.
"They will say I’m pushing an agenda. But the truth is, I am.” - The rise of queer artists and the importance of visibility
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.