One year ago today, we opened our doors. Since then, we have received 97 enquiries, produced a 'Know Your Rights' guide, given talks to the Welsh Gender Service, Glitter Cymru, the Queer Emporium and the Law Centres Network, and have been nominated for two national awards.
Being one of the only clinics in the UK that provides free legal advice to the LGBTQ+ community specifically, and the only one in Wales, we knew there was an opportunity to build something unique and influential, but we certainly did not expect the response that we so far have received. We believe the statistics we have gathered, show a very clear picture of the continued discrimination levied against the LGBTQ+ community, especially the trans community, and why clinics such as ours are so desperately needed.
Within the 97 enquiries, we have advised on a wide range of areas, from employment, to immigration, to defamation. From issues such as surrogacy to whistleblowing, we have attempted to provide advice no matter the topic. And it is only with the help of our volunteer lawyers, law firms, and chambers, that we have been able to so successfully cover each area, and provide meaningful help to those who request it. It must be said, however, that with the continued cuts to the public sector, as well as the cost of living crisis, we will continue to need the help of those very skilled and passionate lawyers, as while inequality deepens, so does the need for vital services.
We would also like to take this opportunity to once again pay our respects to Dr Gary Jenkins, who was murdered in a homophobic attack in Cardiff earlier this year. The picture that accompanies this article was taken at the vigil held in his honour outside the National Museum. His tragic death casts a shadow over this city, and reminds us that homophobia is alive and well, and at its worst, can take lives in the most brutal fashion imaginable.
In regards to the breakdown of our statistics, the majority of our enquiries came from trans individuals (68%), compared to gay (15%), lesbian (9%), and bisexual (8%) individuals. It is therefore clear that transphobia in the UK is seeping into every part of our society. From the Conservative Party to our media, transphobia is rampant. And with the lack of reform to the Gender Recognition Act, we received 14 enquiries relating to the Act, often regarding how one can legally change their gender, and requesting for us to witness their statutory declaration.
Threats to sue trans people have also been a common theme, with defamation being one of our most frequent areas of law we have advised on. An attempt to sue a disabled trans woman of colour, to online harassment of a teenage trans girl playing sport in the category of her identified gender, are just two examples of what we have seen at the clinic.
The power imbalance here is particularly worrying, with often wealthy individuals instructing expensive law firms in an attempt to intimidate often poor, working class trans people, into doing what they want. A clear example that the law can quite readily be used to intimidate, harass and scare. Needless to say, but without systemic change, transphobia will continue to be a permanent feature of our society and political system.
Within our unjust system, oppression comes from many different angles. And our statistics paint a similar picture. Over half of those who requested our help (58%), identified as disabled, and we received a disproportionate amount of enquiries from those that identified as non-white. We acknowledge that our ethnicity statistics may be considered overly simplistic, but we are a small organisation run entirely by volunteers, and nonetheless believe it is important to obtain them. Race plays a considerable role in society, and we want to highlight that it also extends to those who are LGBTQ+.
It is fair to say that if it was not for the The LGBTQ+ Law Clinic, many individuals in the LGBTQ+ community in the UK would have struggled to find legal representation. And that fact would not have been possible without the tireless work of our volunteers. From speaking to those who request our help, to taking notes, to communicating with solicitors, to maintaining our social media, without them, we would not have been able to help many of the most vulnerable within our society.
Here is to many years to come.