Mr S Chelvan, a barrister at No5 Chambers who is internationally recognised as a leading expert in the field of asylum claims surrounding sexual and gender identity, delivered the Stonewall Lecture at the Law Society on 5 February 2013. 

The lecture “From silence to safety: protecting the gay refugee?” was organised by the Law Society and the Bar Council in association with Stonewall, InterLaw Diversity Forum and the Bar Lesbian and Gay Group and was chaired by Sir Terence Etherton, Chancellor of the High Court.

“It is a huge honour to be nominated and invited to deliver the eleventh Stonewall Lecture,” says Chelvan. “I took the opportunity to look at the current thinking of international governments and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) which initially focused upon how to prove that an asylum seeker may be lesbian or gay by developing a questionnaire. 

“Having travelled around the world, providing training on LGBTI asylum and successfully representing gay and lesbian asylum seekers in the UK, I believe the above approach is not just inappropriate but fundamentally wrong as it encourages individuals to look at means to prove their sexuality which, in some cases, is inhuman and degrading. 

“That is why I have devised a seemingly groundbreaking – but, to me, obvious – concept that is founded upon a common narrative. I call this concept DSSH – Difference, Stigma, Shame and Harm. It moves the focus of attention away from sex and, instead, looks at the issue of sexual or gender identity outside the bedroom, which is at the core of the issue.” 

Chelvan is regularly instructed on ground-breaking public law and immigration cases, some of which have attracted national and international media interest. He is also respected for his pre-litigation advisory work, leading to successful litigation in judicial reviews. 

Tony McDaid, Practice Director at No5 Chambers, comments: “I am very pleased that Chelvan was invited to deliver this lecture. It is recognition of his depth of knowledge of the law in this area and his commitment to innovative thinking, which underscore his deserved reputation as a ‘trailblazer’. 

“It is not that long ago that he placed his life on the line delivering lectures in a country where being gay is a serious crime and I am sure that those attending the Stonewall Lecture were fascinated by his insight and experience.” 

The Eleventh Stonewall Lecture was delivered by Mr S Chelvan at 6:00pm on Tuesday 5 February 2013 in the Common Room of the Law Society, 113 Chancery Lane, London WC2A 1PL. 

Chelvan is a member of a number of professional groups including the Equality and Diversity Committee, the Bar Pro Bono Unit, Lawyers for Liberty, the Foreign National Prisoners Network and Bar Lesbian and Gay Group. He will be editing the chapter on asylum law in the forthcoming 13th edition of Jackson and Warr on Immigration Law. Anyone wishing to know more about Mr Chelvan should visit or contact his clerks on 0845 210 5555.

No5 Chambers’ barristers accept instructions from solicitors and, under the Bar Council’s Licensed Access arrangements, from other qualified professionals. Some counsel will also accept instructions from companies and public bodies within the Bar Council’s Public Access Rules. Many No5 members are Qualified Mediators for those matters requiring an alternative approach. A full list of members’ interests can be consulted here

The audio of the lecture can be downloaded from The Law Society CPD Centre, by clicking here.

Please click here to read an article reported by The Independent