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LGBTQ+ Families & Mediation

Jan 21, 2018 | News

“A family is a family – no matter who the members are.”

At Direct Mediation Services we believe that mediation is a process suitable for all families. We understand the different nature of families and believe that the family extends further than just parent and child. Families come in all different shapes and sizes, from the conventional nuclear family to single parents, adoptive parents and children being raised by grandparents. Around 20,000 young people in Britain are growing up with same-sex parents and many children have lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans parents or family. Mediation works for all these different families. Maria Moscati, a senior lecturer in Family Law at the University of Sussex, has developed the following resource that embodies these points. This could be very useful in supporting you to explain mediation to your children!

Family law has not always adopted the view that “a family is a family – no matter who the members are”. It has been less than a decade since same-sex marriage was legalised. There has been good progress in recognising equality in the LGBTQ+ community, but there remain barriers to be broken. At Direct Mediation Services, our managing partner, Stuart Hanson, is committed to ensuring that we pioneer LGBTQ+ equality. As an openly gay individual himself, Stuart is our LGBT champion and has created and delivered accredited training to mediators both internally externally on the LGBTQ+ family and how to best support people part of this diverse community in mediation. Throughout the development of Direct Mediation Services, Stuart has always ensured that our mediators are equipped to understand the LGTBQ+ experience and therefore offer mediation to those families who are different from the standard mum, dad, and child cases. Our mediators understand key LGBTQ+ terminology. We actively use gender-neutral language, are aware of LGBTQ+ history in the UK, and recognise the individual complexities (a common one being parental responsibility) that arise in LGBTQ+ cases.

Stuart hopes to challenge the heterosexual and binary normative that appears to be very present in the legal system in the UK. He says, “There has been progress, but we have not yet arrived at our equality destination. It is only through education that we can break down barriers to achieve true equality for everyone for the LGBTQ+ family. For example, people have to realise that you cannot tell someone’s name or pronoun just by looking at them. If someone takes the time to let you know their name and pronoun, use it and respect it. It’s not up to you to decide someone else’s identity.”

We’re here. We’re Queer. Get used to it.

“I identify as a gay man and I am out and proud. I often get asked the question, when did you come out? To be honest, I never did, as it was something that was a gradual realisation. When I was young, I realised I was different, but I never identified as being gay until much later. I knew I was not living the “usual” life of a little boy; I insisted on ballet classes after seeing a televised performance of Rudolf Nureyev, and I remember begging my parents to watch the Kenny Everett show. There was a definite connection with these performers, but I did not understand the reason at the time. I was just Stuart, an extrovert and who teachers described as “gregarious”. Today, I describe myself as a beige gay and when I give presentations on the LGBT+ community, I let people into my secret that my life is actually just as boring as everyone else’s, and it generally applies to most people who are part of the community. We are everywhere, we have infiltrated every part of society and yes, we did steal all the best music like Abba and The Village People! The last 40 years have seen a transformation in the UK for the LGBT+ community, but we still have some distance to travel. There is an assumed heterosexual narrative that permeates society, which I regularly experience, “Can you tell me your wife’s name?” when I tell them I am married. We need to challenge society’s straight narrative because jumping out of the closet that society builds for me, does get tiring! In the month of LGBT+ history month, we need to reflect on the assumptions we make and challenge them, which includes me. I don’t want people to tell me that they have gay friends, relatives, brothers and sisters, because guess what I have straight friends and straight family members. It is time to leave these ideas behind and embrace a new fabulous future where these things don’t matter or need to be considered”.

Please see this short video from Stuart discussing LGBTQ+ families and diversity at Direct Mediation Services:

For LGBTQ+ families experiencing disputes and problems in family life. Mediation can help you. Our commitment to LGBTQ+ equality means that you will be supported by individuals who can understand your situation. Going to court can result in your case being heard by judges or magistrates who have not had these experiences or the relevant training and decisions are made for you rather than with you. Mediation keeps decision making in your hands. At Direct Mediation Services you can be confident that you are in safe and supportive hands.

Direct Mediation Services and its mediators want to build a mediation service in which the LGBTQ+ community has confidence. If you would like to talk with our LGBT Champion, Stuart, about how mediation could help your family, please complete the online form and Stuart will call you back.

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