Annual Report – 2018

LGBTI Legal Service Inc

Annual Report 2018

 

Download this annual report (PDF, 3.1 MB)

Supporting our community

The LGBTI Legal Service Inc is a non-profit community-based legal service that commenced operations on 7 July 2010 and was officially launched on 1 December 2010 by the Hon Michael Kirby AC CMG. Until 1 July 2017 we were unfunded, relying entirely upon volunteers, fundraising and donations. The Service is run by both employed staff and volunteers. The team of around 40 passionate people includes:

  • the Management Committee;
  • the Executive Director;
  • the Principal Solicitor;
  • administrative staff;
  • the Law Reform portfolio;
  • volunteer lawyers;
  • Evening Coordinators;
  • and students.

Our story: 2017 / 18

This annual report covers the period of 1 July 2017 to 30 June 2018 and was presented at the LGBTI Legal Service Inc. Annual General Meeting on 15 December 2018. Additional copies of this publication can be requested from the Service or downloaded from our website at lgbtilegalservice.org. We gratefully acknowledge and thank the members, staff and volunteers of the Service who assisted with the design of this report and continue to make invaluable contributions to our community organisation.

Commitment to reconciliation

The Management Committee, staff and volunteers of the LGBTI Legal Service proudly affirm that the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are the indigenous inhabitants of Australia and acknowledge their unique relationship with their ancestral country. In particular, we acknowledge the Turrbal and Jagera people, the traditional custodians of the land in and around Brisbane, and pay our respect to their elders, both past and present.

Our goals and mission

The LGBTI Legal Service provides free advice and information to clients who have legal problems that arise from their identification as a member of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans or intersex (LGBTI) community. Our clients also choose to visit us because they feel more comfortable in dealing with solicitors with specific skills, interests and understandings of LGBTI-related legal issues and the barriers experienced by LGBTI people in accessing justice. We also actively participate in law reform on LGBTI legal issues, provide community legal education and conduct awareness raising campaigns.

A bisexual woman was unable to list her children as each others’ siblings on their birth certificates after using donor sperm. The LGBTI Legal Service successfully challenged the decision of the Registry of Birth Deaths and Marriages and these children are now publicly recognised as siblings.

Case Study

Who we are

Management Committee

President
  • Matilda Alexander
Treasurer
  • Andrew Lauchland
Secretary
  • Jack Longley
  • Eliza Sullivan (former)
Committee members
  • Andrea Stein
  • Mitch Hughes
  • Tyson Probyn
  • Peter Black
  • Harrison Turner

Service management

Executive Director
  • Emile McPhee
Principal Lawyer
  • Renea Hart
Law Reform Directors
  • Thomas Clark
  • Harrison Turner (Assistant)

Service support

Administrative Assistants
  • Eliza Sullivan
  • Kai Priestly
Senior Evening Coordinators
  • Drew Lauchland
  • Jack Longley
  • Jessica Davidson
  • Mitchell Hughes
Evening Coordinators
  • Andrea Stein
  • Annalise Spurge
  • Isaiah Nelson
  • Tamara Baldwin
  • Tristan Butler-Keegan
Law Reform Volunteers
  • Alastair Page
  • Annalise Spurge
  • Christina Meyers
  • Connor Costigan
  • Fergus Harte
  • Isaac Fisher
  • Julian Ladd
  • Katharine Bligh
  • Katie-Lea
  • Lewis Tracey
  • Odette Malpas-Haussmann
  • Rose Barrett
  • Sujay Kentlyn
  • Thomas Klepper
Lawyers
  • Amy Chesnutt
  • Arlene Stanovitch
  • Bridget Burton
  • Diane Wright
  • Ellie Bassingthwaighte
  • Gillian Welsh
  • Giri Sivaraman
  • Jordyn Jones
  • Kate Fuller
  • Katrina Gillies
  • Klaire Coles
  • Kris Birch
  • Patrick Brown
  • Phylli Verrall
  • Rebecca Pierluigi
  • Shannon Chen
  • Sophia Bookallil
  • Timothy Cunningham
UQ Student Volunteers
  • Alex Ladd
  • Emily McClelland
  • Anna Reynolds
  • Sophie Perkins
QUT Placement Students
  • Allegra Thomas
  • Cohen Dietrich
  • Harriet Curran
  • Arwa Nayfeh
Other Supporters
  • Julia Marler
  • Tanya Quakawoot

President’s report

What a year for the LGBTI Legal Service and for the LGBTI community. YES! YES! YES! A major goal towards equality and a major law reform goal ticked off. Finally we have equal love! Marriage equality! Same sex marriage!

So why do LGBTI people need a legal service?

We have marriage equality now, it’s all good, yeah? No. We still face bullying at school and in workplaces. 61% of LGBTI young people report experiencing verbal homophobic abuse and 18% reported experiencing physical homophobic abuse.

We still face domestic violence at the same rate as our heterosexual counterparts, yet comparatively few LGBTI people report this and access legal protections.

We are still invisible. There is no dedicated commissioner for LGBTI issues in Commonwealth or State legislation and there are no Commonwealth or State Ministers or government agencies that take primary responsibility for advancing LGBTI concerns. LGBTI people are often not included in national studies, or police crime data, and transgender and intersex people are often left off entirely or ‘misgendered’ in surveys. There is a gaping hole in government policy for LGBTI people, one that we are working with several government departments such as Education, Child Safety and Corrective Services to fill.

LGBTI people are politically invisible but also personally invisible. When we are visible, it often triggers safety concerns or other risks. Walking down the street holding hands becomes a political act for gays, bisexuals and lesbians and simply walking down the street can become a political act for transgender people.

Many barriers exist for LGBTI accessing mainstream services. A high percentage of LGBTI people hide their sexual orientation or gender identity in public for fear of violence or discrimination – one study found 42% usually or occasionally hide their identity at community events and 39% do so at work. Coming out to a legal service is a barrier for many.

We face intersectional challenges. Structural and individual racism, classism, sexism and disability discrimination prevent access to the LGBTI community for many people. Homophobia and transphobia prevent access to other communities for some. We need to ensure that our LGBTI community and services are also culturally competent, disability accessible and standing in solidarity with all members of our community.

We face barriers to accessing our identity. Trans people are constantly misgendered, outed or asked inappropriate questions about their genitals before they can access services or exercise rights such as changing their name or documents.

These are some of the legal issues that the LGBTI Legal Service exists to address. They are legal issues that have a direct impact on physical and mental health.

We can articulate the legal issues in a way that is relatable to our clients and make them feel comfortable in accessing assistance. Many of our clients provide feedback explaining that they would not have felt comfortable talking about their legal issues in a mainstream service. LGBTI community ownership makes our Service work by encouraging access and enabling peer support and community development.

We have been criminalised, excluded and shunned for our sexuality. During the marriage equality postal vote we faced record levels of discrimination and vilification and our subsequent legal casework has had huge success in combating hatred. To hold the perpetrators of hate speech accountable, we took the community’s complaints and brought a mass action against the worst perpetrators of the abuse. We are also taking action after a number of employment law issues arose following acrimonious debate over equal rights in some workplaces.

I am honoured to work with such talented staff and thank our solicitors, administrators and volunteers for all their hard work.

Matilda Alexander
President