Challenging hidden assumptions

4 March 2020

Recent social progress in LGBT+ issues in the UK is a cause for celebration but it is not the end of the story.  Heteronormative stereotypes persist and can be harmful.  

In the Medical Negligence and Personal Injury team we frequently work with disabled clients and understand the challenges that they face, not just in practical terms, but in relation to social attitudes to disability.  However, disability is not the only aspect of a disabled person’s identity.  Issues such as sexual orientation and gender identity are often relevant but can easily be overlooked. 

When preparing claims on behalf of individuals (whether or not they are disabled), it is important to be aware of and challenge unwarranted assumptions about their sexual orientation or gender identity.

We should also be mindful when applying legal precedent, if those decisions are the result of outdated views, such as traditional gender roles.  For example, general damages payable in respect of facial disfigurement historically differed between men and women, on the basis that a woman’s appearance was more important than that of a man’s.  In 2012, retired Judge Dame Janet Smith challenged this, in her forward to the Judicial College guidelines, encouraging judges and lawyers to assess the effects of disfigurement on an individual Claimant, without making assumptions based on gender. 

Even where outdated views regarding gender and sexual orientation do not produce different legal outcomes, they can still reinforce social stereotypes or erase from view important aspects of an individual’s identity.  For these reasons we are committed to ‘seeing the whole person’ and avoiding unnecessary (and often inaccurate) assumptions.

LGBTQ bulletin board

LGBTQ bulletin board

"They will say I’m pushing an agenda. But the truth is, I am.” - The rise of queer artists and the importance of visibility

Read the blog

Visibility, Unity and Equality: out and proud in the legal sector

Read more

Pride 2021 blog series: Things not to say to same-sex parents

Read blog

The importance of LGBTQ+ spaces on International Day against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia

By Emily Elliott


The lionesses: how female footballers are tackling equality with pride

Read blog

Network members attend seminar on gender-neutral drafting, sponsored by InterLaw

See Guide to Gender-Neutral Drafting

Kingsley Napley listed in the “Top 25 in the Legal Sector” of the Workplace Equality Index 2019

Read more

Letter to a Homophobe

by Melinka Berridge

Read blog

Kingsley Napley's LGBTQ+ Blog Series 2020

Read our 2020 blog series

Hidden Flags

By Mary Young

Read blog

Pray the gay away: cull conversion therapy worldwide

By Sameena Munir

Read blog

#IDAHOBIT day 2019

Two thirds of LGBTQ people still being harassed at work: IDAHOBIT is a timely reminder of the work that still needs to be done

Read Stephen Parkinson's blog

LGBTQ & Allies Network members attend (and win) quiz in support of The Outside Project - the Uk's first LQBTIQ+ community shelter and centre

Kingsley Napley Pride lanyards #Pride2019

More rainbows, but also more hate crime: why Pride is still so important in 2019

By Emily Elliott

Read blog

Share insightLinkedIn Twitter Facebook Email to a friend Print

Email this page to a friend

We welcome views and opinions about the issues raised in this blog. Should you require specific advice in relation to personal circumstances, please use the form on the contact page.

Leave a comment

Skip to content Home About Us Insights Services Contact Accessibility