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  • Writer's pictureThe LGBTQ+ Law Clinic

From 97 to 170: Our Year in Numbers

Updated: Oct 10, 2023

The LGBTQ+ Law Clinic is proud to have made it to its second birthday. A milestone that from the beginning we did not believe we could reach. And as time has passed, we have continued to grow, and continued to create a network of lawyers and law firms committed to ensuring access to justice for those in the LGBTQ+ community.

In our first year, we recorded 97 enquiries. A lofty figure that we quite frankly did not expect to receive, and one that is a testament to our work and outreach. We are so incredibly proud to say that in our second year, we have nearly doubled that total. With 170 enquiries received on areas as diverse as immigration and asylum, to education law, it is evident that the need for legal advice in the LGBTQ+ community is prevalent, unquestionably due to the ever present societal and systemic discrimination the community faces. It is, for instance, no surprise that over half of those who requested our services identified as disabled.

Below we take a brief look at three themes which we wish to highlight.

The Hostile Environment

The often-vitriolic rhetoric from our media and our politicians, castigating refugees, those seeking asylum, and other vulnerable migrants, branding them a threat and removing their access to justice is, in our view, evidenced in our statistics. Indeed, immigration and asylum, with 27 enquiries, ended as the most common area of law that we advised upon.

The hostile environment, coupled with the dismantling of legal aid, has led to a shortage of law firms and competent advisors to address the worsening refugee crisis the world over. A crisis caused in large part by British foreign policy and historic colonialism, and thus a crisis that we should bear responsibility for. Yet, as we have commented on previously, the attack on refugees and the plan to remove those seeking asylum to Rwanda, is the anthesis to a country willing to reckon with its destructive role in global affairs.

Thus, LGBTQ+ individuals seeking asylum have been left without support and in constant fear of being returned to a country that persecutes their sexuality and/or gender identity. As a way to continue and strengthen our attempts to address this state of affairs, we will be collaborating with the Cardiff based charity Asylum Justice to establish an in-person drop-in on immigration and asylum issues.

Statutory Declarations ≠ Profit

As the Conservative government has reinforced their opposition to modernizing the now draconian Gender Recognition Act, the trans community continue to face bureaucratic and financial barriers in order to change their legal gender. Consequently, requests for the witnessing of statutory declarations and other related questions regarding the Act finished as the third most advised upon area of law the clinic saw.

Disturbingly, we received further anecdotes from clients informing us that they had been unable to source a solicitor to witness their statutory declaration due to the outrageous costs being demanded. With the general cost of submitting an application to the Gender Recognition Panel on average totaling hundreds of pounds, we are determined that all those who require a witness for their statutory declaration, can do so free of charge.

It is with this in mind that we are in the process of establishing further statutory declaration hubs across the UK, which we hope will end predatory costing and increase access to legal support for the trans community.

The Continuing Rise of Transphobia

Lastly, as a repeat of last year’s statistics, the trans and non-binary community are represented disproportionately. Our existence is justified by such figures, and it is justified by the trust and respect we have built with this community. It is a privilege to ensure that whatever the issue, we will do our best to obtain for them competent legal advice and support.

As one might expect, with the rampant transphobia that plagues our society, the enquiries we have received have been nothing short of complex, traumatic, and desperate. From employment discrimination to complaints relating to transphobia within the police, there is no sphere where transphobia does not rear its ugly head.

It is thus incredibly important that the trans community are prepared and informed as to their rights and how to access them. It is for this reason that we are collaborating with a London based international law firm to produce detailed ‘Know Your Rights Guides’ for the trans community on various areas of law. Such an endeavor will be the first of its kind in the UK and we hope that it will make a substantial impact in the lives of many in the trans community.

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