LGBTIQ at the Victorian Bar

The Victorian Bar is a busy, thriving community comprising barristers, clerks and support staff. It is in part made up of barristers and staff who identify as members of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and gender diverse, Intersex, Queer and Questioning (LGBTIQ) communities. Along with LGBTIQ solicitors and members of the judiciary, they form part of an increasingly diverse and inclusive legal profession.

The Victorian Bar LGBTIQ Working Group

The Victorian Bar LGBTIQ Working Group is a support and networking group for LGBTIQ barristers and allies. It is a volunteer sub-committee of the Equality & Diversity Committee of the Bar Council. Anyone is welcome to join the Working Group. 

The aims of the Working Group are to:

  • advise and assist in policy development in matters of significance affecting LGBTIQ barristers, and where appropriate in matters concerning law reform;
  • facilitate networks and support for LGBTIQ barristers in matters of professional and personal development within and external to the Victorian Bar;
  • organise CPD events and other means of promoting each of the above measures to members of the Victorian Bar and the wider profession and community; and
  • liaise with the Pro Bono committee on matters of pro bono advice and representation for legal issues of concern to LGBTIQ communities and their members.

The Working Group has established a WhatsApp Group for LGBTIQ members of the Victorian Bar to share information and resources and to offer each other support and social connection.

Rainbow Social Group

The Rainbow Social Group regularly holds social events for LGBTIQ barristers and allies, as well as collaborates with other organisations to hold events for the wider legal profession.

Addressing discrimination at the Victorian Bar

The Victorian Bar is committed to eliminating discrimination in the legal profession, and its members seek that the Bar reflect the wider society that it serves, including LGBTIQ communities. Only by doing this can the Victorian Bar also ensure that the best candidates join and remain a part of it, irrespective of their sexual orientation, gender identity or intersex status.

Like many other Australian workplaces, the Victorian Bar strives to be free from discrimination & harassment. The LGBTIQ working group, equality and diversity committee, and our many allies at the Bar are working to eliminate homophobia, transphobia, prejudice, bias, stigma and exclusion from the Bar and legal profession generally.

Relevant Laws, Rules and Policies

The following State and Commonwealth laws apply to barristers and staff at the Victorian Bar:

  • the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 (Vic), which prohibits discrimination in workplaces, education and in the provision of goods and services;
  • the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth), under which it is unlawful to discriminate against a person on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity and intersex status.

Additionally, under the Legal Profession Uniform Conduct (Barrister) Rules 2015, barristers must not engage in conduct that constitutes discrimination, sexual harassment or bullying in the course of or in connection with legal practice or their profession, including at social functions connected with the bar or profession, or in interactions with a person which whom the barrister has or has had a professional relationship.

The Victorian Bar also has a policy prohibiting discrimination, including on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation.

Where you can go for help if you experience discrimination or harassment at the Victorian Bar

LGBTIQ resources

Victorian Bar Guide to Changing the Working Environment for LGBTIQ People (2020)

Australian Government: Style Manual: Gender and sexual diversity (last updated June 2022) 

Diversity Council Australia: Out at Work: From Prejudice to Pride (2018)

Law Council of Australia: Making your legal practice LGBTI+ friendly

Australian Institute of Family Studies: Inclusive communication with LGBTIQ+ clients (February 2022)

Australian Institute of Family Studies: LGBTIQA+ glossary of common terms (February 2022)

ACON - A language guide: Trans and gender diverse inclusion (March 2019)

Other LGBTIQ services and supports

  • The Fitzroy Legal Service LGBTQIA+ Family Law Clinic runs on the first Wednesday of each month.
  • The LGBTIQ Legal Service is a state-wide, free community legal service for Victorians provided by Southside Justice.
  • Pride in Law is Australia’s National LGBTIQ+ Law Association.
  • Equality Australia is a national organisation that exists to improve the wellbeing and circumstances of LGBTIQ+ people in Australia and their families.
  • Black Rainbow is the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, Queer, Sistergirl & Brotherboy (LGBQTI+SB) organisation in the pursuit of positive health and wellbeing for Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander LGBQTI+SB people.
  • Transgender Victoria is Victoria’s leading body for trans and gender diverse people.
  • Intersex Peer Support Australia is an intersex peer support, information and advocacy group for people born with variations in sex characteristics and their families.
  • The Victorian Pride Lobby is a community-based advocacy group that works towards equality, social justice, and advancing the human rights for lesbian, gay, queer, bisexual and same-sex attracted Victorians.
  • Out For Australia provides role models, mentors, events and support to aspiring LGBTIQA+ professionals.
  • Pride in Diversity is a national not-for-profit employer support program for all aspects of LGBTQ workplace inclusion.