The Dan Andrews led Labor government on Tuesday announced that it was appointing its openly gay solicitor general and former Fulbright scholar Kristen Walker QC as a judge to Victoria’s highest court – the Court of Appeal. 

Walker has been described as “one of the state’s most distinguished advocates”. 

Walker, an expert in constitutional and human rights law and refugee rights advocate, has been Victoria’s solicitor general since 2017. Walker and her partner Melbourne Law School professor Miranda Stewart have a son

“Kristen Walker QC has made an exceptional mark on her field and is well respected in the legal and academic  communities,” said attorney-general Jaclyn Symes in a statement. 

“Ms Walker’s distinguished career spans across jurisdictions and in significant and complex legal issues. This  expertise and knowledge puts her in an excellent place to make a strong contribution to the Court of Appeal.” 

“As Victorian Solicitor-General, Ms Walker has worked tirelessly to provide independent advice to the Government  on many significant matters – I thank her for her contributions and guidance,” said Symes.

In a 2012 profile, Walker spoke about the most influential people in her life: “My parents, my partner Miranda, my son Alfie and Sir Anthony Mason (former Chief Justice of Australia).”

Asked in the same profile, the one thing that she would like to change about Australia, Walker responded: “Our refugee policy.”

In a paper The Importance of being Out, Walker had discussed the issue of sexuality and refugee status. 

“A particular, western image of “the homosexual” has been required before the RRT (Australia Refugee Review Tribunal)  will accept that there are objective grounds for a fear of persecution. Men who are “out” and who are in long-term monogamous relationships are accepted as refugees, whereas those who are closeted or promiscuous are not.”

“The “discreet” homosexual is sent back to a life of casual sex and the risk of imprisonment the basis that discretion will provide protection from persecution – a life lived in fear and secrecy is not sufficient to demonstrate persecution,” Walker had argued. 

Walker graduated in 1991 from the Melbourne Law School and won  the Supreme Court Prize for the top performing law student. She taught at the Melbourne Law School, Columbia Law School and University of Arizona, before enrolling in the bar in 2004.

Walker’s appointment to the Court of Appeal will start on May 3, 2021. 

Contribution To Jurisprudence In LGBTIQ+ Human Rights

Anna Brown, CEO, Equality Australia congratulated Walker on the appointment recalling her contribution to legal cases that involved gender equality as well as LGBTQI rights.

“A very worthy appointment, Walker will contribute both exceptional legal expertise and diversity to the state’s highest court,” said Brown.

“Walker has contributed greatly to the development of jurisprudence in LGBTIQ+ human rights in Australia through her extensive pro bono practice as an academic and practising lawyer. Walker assisted gay rights advocates and the legal team in the Croome case in the Australian High Court in 1997, and marriage equality campaigners before Howard’s amendments to the Marriage Act in 2004.”
“I have been been lucky to work with Walker on significant legal matters for trans, gender diverse and intersex Australians, acting for ACT based trans and intersex organisation A Gender Agenda in two successful amicus curiae interventions,” said Brown
“First, the landmark Norrie matter, where our submissions for AGA contributed to the High Court recognising the reality of gender diversity outside the categories of male and female. Second, the important case of Re Kelvin, where the Family Court of Appeal upheld the rights of transgender young people to access life saving hormones without the need for a court process.”
“These issues continue to play out in the courts today, and the LGBTIQ+ community continues to benefit from the generous pro bono support of m members of the legal profession to defend and assert their rights,” added Brown.

 

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