A Review of LGBTQ2+ Law: Practice Issues and Analysis

A helpful starting point for all lawyers on LGBTQ2+ legal issues and respectful practice


A Review of LGBTQ2+ Law: Practice Issues and Analysis

LGBTQ2+ Law: Practice Issues and Analysis1, (“LGBTQ2+ Law”) offers lawyers two critical tools to improve their practice:

an overview of key lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and two-spirit (LGBTQ2+) legal issues in numerous practice areas that will assist lawyers in properly identifying and meeting their clients’ legal needs, and information and perspectives that are necessary to understand for lawyers to competently and respectfully interact with and serve their LGBTQ2+ clients.

CBABC’s Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Community Section is frequently approached by lawyers seeking to improve in both of these areas. While no single volume can replace diligent research and in-person training, LGBTQ2+ Law provides an excellent and needed starting point. With its potential to reach a broad audience, this book can also help elevate the basic level of knowledge and competency in LGBTQ2+ issues within the profession, which will assist in addressing the unmet legal needs and access to justice concerns of LGBTQ2+ communities.2

Substantive Law

The scope of LGBTQ2+ Law is very ambitious. It covers substantive legal issues related to:

  • human rights and the Charter
  • family law and estate planning
  • polyamoury and non-dyadic relationships
  • immigration and conflict of laws
  • children and youth, and
  • criminal law and public health.

Where a matter falls under provincial jurisdiction, the authors have attempted to address and identify the differences between provinces.

While the vast amount of material covered is impressive, it is by necessity a starting point to research into some of these legal issues, not an end point. It also means that not every chapter will be relevant to one’s practice. However, as a client’s legal needs may not fall neatly into a single area of law, having a general understanding of issues that can arise for LGBTQ2+ people will help lawyers better identify their clients’ legal needs.

Context and Competency

Not every lawyer is familiar with the LGBTQ2+ communities, but every lawyer will at one or more points in their professional careers interact with LGBTQ2+ people — be they as clients, colleagues, opposing counsel, or judges. Lawyers have legal and professional obligations to treat everyone within the legal system with respect and to provide legal services to their clients to the best of their abilities. However, even strong allies and LGBTQ2+ lawyers themselves are not always familiar enough with the relevant issues to confidently and respectfully assist their clients, particularly when it comes to trans and gender non-binary matters.

Two of the chapters of LGBTQ2+ Law will be particularly helpful for lawyers seeking to improve their competency in this area: “LGBTQ2+ Cultural Competency” and “Trans Competent Lawyering”. These, along with similar sections in other chapters, are well-written and will help readers understand, for example, the importance and proper use of pronouns, the meaning and significance of terms such as cissexism and intersectionality, and why all of this is relevant to their professional practice.

Rounding out the volume, a chapter on the history of queer rights, forward by Kathleen Wynne, and personal reflections at the end of each chapter help humanise the sometimes-dry legal material. In particular, many of the personal reflections were remarkable to read and demonstrate the critical importance of improving the quality and quantity of legal services to LGBTQ2+ communities. They also illustrate the ongoing resiliency of the LGBTQ2+ and legal communities alike.

Overall, I highly recommend this volume as a starting point for all lawyers seeking to provide the best service possible to their clients, regardless of practice area. As a queer and non-binary lawyer myself, I thought there was not a lot more for me to learn in this area, but I was wrong. Even I learned a lot — and I am a better lawyer having read it.

1 LGBTQ2+ Law: Practice Issues and Analysis, Joanna Radbord, ed., (Toronto: Emond Montgomery Publications, 2020) |
2 See, for example, TRANSforming JUSTICE — Trans Legal Needs Assessment Ontario Project |

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