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LIV President's Blog 2012

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LIVout for LGBTI

LIVout for LGBTI

This year Reynah Tang, LIV President, has stated his platform for 2013 is diversity, and diversity necessarily includes issues relating to the LGBTIQ (lesbian, gay bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer) community.  In the April edition of the Law Institute Journal (which I know that you all will have read from cover to cover) the President announced that the LIV would be launching a 'LGBTI network' later on this year, and I’m pleased to tell you that the wheels are already turning.
 
LGBTI Network meeting
On 29 April a group of LIV members interested in setting up the Network met at the LIV to discuss what the purpose and the agenda of the group would be. That group has decided that the network should be a little bit policy, a little bit law reform, a good sized chunk of social!
 
However, the creation of the group does raise a good question – why, in this day and age, do we still need a group specifically for members of the LGBTIQ community? The simple reason is that homophobia still exists.
 
Homophobia still exists in the community
You need not look any further than recent submissions to the Senate’s Inquiry into the Marriage Equality Amendment Bill 2012 and the Marriage Amendment Bill 2012. Whilst of 60% of the 276,437 submissions to the Inquiry supported marriage equality, there were still thousands that did not.  Comments made included opinion that the legalisation of same sex marriage would mean that “society will break down” and that “moving away from God’s standard has resulted in a decay of the family unit”.
 
I’d wager that a number of you reading this may have even engaged in homophobia. Ever caught yourself saying something like “wow, that’s so gay”? – homophobia! Using “gay” to describe something you’re not happy with, or something that is bad or inappropriate is just that, inappropriate. And let’s face it – as a profession that loves words, surely we can find a better synonym!
 
Joining forces
As a gay person when you’re faced with homophobia in a number of ways, sometimes it’s just nice to be with others who have been there too, with someone that relates to what you relate to. It’s the same as meeting up with old uni mates to relive the horrors of the second semester torts assignment that saw half of your intake drop out and go off to complete MBAs instead of law degrees.
 
Providing support to combat depression
Having that network is also important to help you deal with your professional life. The LIV has been working very hard to raise awareness of mental health issues within the legal profession and in 2012 launched the Vic Lawyers’ Health Line. As was noted at the time, the evidence suggests that lawyers and law students are more likely to experience depression and anxiety than the wider community.  The research from BeyondBlue also confirms that those in the LGBTIQ community are more likely to suffer depression and also experience “higher rates of suicidal behaviour and suicidal ideation than the rest of the population”.
 
Supporting LGBTIQ
There are also issues of isolation. Whilst some of the bigger firms, like Allens and Freehills, have LGBTIQ networks for their staff, you might be the only LGBTIQ person at your firm. And if your firm is in a regional or remote area, there’s a chance you might actually be ‘the only gay in the village’, (if you’ve ever watched Little Britain, you’ll understand that reference).
 
The importance of having some kind of network that understands the pain of six minute increments, as well as understanding your issues and needs as an LGBTIQ person cannot be underestimated.  With that in mind, the need for the LIV’s LGBTI Network is apparent. And as I know that the Young Lawyers blog likes a good scoop from time to time, you heard it here first: the name of LIV’s 'LGBTI Network' is ‘LIVout’.
 
To be added to LIVout’s mailing list, please email fwhite@liv.asn.au.  
 
Guest Blog contributed by Ffyona White
LIV Paralegal
 
Ffyona is a paralegal at the LIV and is currently in her final semester as a “mature” law student. Her background is in criminal justice as a residential social worker, and a paralegal at Legal Aid Queensland, and in private practice. Ffyona lives with her partner and two dogs – who seem totally unaffected by being raised by gay parents.   
 

 
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