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LGBT moot: BPP Law School snatches victory from 2016 winners Oxford University

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The competition was judged by some of the country’s leading human rights specialists

L-R: Sarah-Jane Ewart who won the Coram Chambers Special Prize for Advocacy; Holly Symonds, Andrew Brown and Donnchadh Greene (BPP); Baroness Featherstone; Elle Tait, Tom Lowenthal and Surabhi Shukla (Oxford)

Students on the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) at BPP Law School have won this year’s LSE-Featherstone LGBT+ moot.

The annual event saw BPP-ers Holly Symonds, Andrew Brown and Donnchadh Greene see off over 100 other students in the oral rounds of the competition and go on to defeat last year’s winners Oxford University in the final showdown. It was BPP and Oxford students who both made it to the final last year too, but on that occasion it was a team of Oxford post-grads which took the coveted crown.

This year’s moot focused on the legal issues surrounding gay asylum. The two teams battled it out courtroom-style both for the appellant, a gay man fearing his life is in danger if he’s sent back home, and the respondent, the Home Secretary. The moot highlighted the struggles sometimes faced by gay men and women applying for UK asylum, such as being asked personal questions about their sex lives. These injustices were explored at length by Oxford Brookes University graduate Jacky Cheng in a recent Legal Cheek Journal article.

Who better to judge a moot on this topic than some of the country’s leading barristers, lecturers and solicitors? These included QCs Brie Stevens-Hoare (Hardwicke) and Ben Jaffey (Blackstone). The moot’s closing party was hosted by drag artist Kitty Monroe.

One barrister and judging panellist, No5 Chambers’ S Chelvan, said:

Both teams displayed high quality research and preparation, strong advocacy skills, including the ability to address difficult questions from the mock bench. The BPP Law School team were unanimously held to be the overall winners, evidencing the added skills of flair and compassion, for one of the most vulnerable groups in our LGBT+ community, those seeking asylum.

It’s been an interesting year for LGBT law, and this was reflected in a range of workshops and talks that took place at the moot. One such was a workshop on sexual orientation discrimination and religious freedom, given by Sarah Crowther. Outer Temple barrister Crowther notably represented Ashers Bakery in the gay cake case, which was sparked after the cake-making business refused to design and sell a cake promoting gay marriage.

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