Post-92s more gay friendly

June 9, 2006

Older universities should copy their newer counterparts when it comes to stamping out homophobia, a conference has heard.

Gay and lesbian academics are more likely to feel accepted at post-92 universities, a speaker at the Queer Pedagogy conference, told The Times Higher .

Robert Mills, an English lecturer at King's College London, applauded his own university and several post-92s for appointing members of staff to support gay and lesbian colleagues, in an address to the conference, which was hosted at King's last weekend.

But he said many older universities ignored the fact that they employed gay academics.

Dr Mills said: "Sometimes it is small things that make a difference. Often it is assumed that colleagues will bring a 'husband or wife' rather than a 'partner' to a function. It is not enough to have an institution-wide approach. A lot of problems are experienced at departmental level."

Dr Mills said delegates agreed there was insufficient research on how many gay and lesbian academics were employed in UK universities and the problems they experienced.

He said: "It does seem that the new universities are at the forefront when it comes to tackling homophobia. It's now up to the old institutions to take the lead."

The conference comes as two academics fight in the High Court for their right to be known as "wife and wife".

Sue Wilkinson, a psychology professor at Loughborough University, and Celia Kitzinger, a sociology professor at York University, were married in a civil ceremony in Canada. English law rules that a same-sex marriage conducted overseas is treated as a civil partnership and does not give the couple the same rights as married heterosexuals.

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