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One of the aims of the Identity Project is to show the diversity and breadth of the LGBTQ+ family and display our portraits and stories in public, easily accessible locations.

I am always delighted when the images take on a life outside the project and was thrilled to see my portrait of Dr S Chelvan included in the South Asians in Law Network Diwali photo exhibition at Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner LLP.

Dr. S Chelvan is a well-known legal expert on refugee and human rights claims based on sexual or gender identity currently practising as a Barrister at 33 Bedford Row, a set of chambers specialising in civil, commercial, family and criminal law.

Dr. Chelvan arrived in the UK from Sri Lanka aged just four as a first-generation immigrant. His father brought him and his brother over to the UK in 1978 to flee persecution from the anti-Tamil riots in Sri Lanka. Chelvan’s mother was already working and studying as anaesthetist in the UK at the time.

Chelvan read Politics and Law at the University of Southampton achieving a First in his chosen degree in 1998. He gained Pupillage at Doughty Street Chambers and 2 Garden Court. During his pupillage, he was awarded a visiting research fellowship by Northwest University in Chicago and became a Kennedy Memorial Trust Scholar at Harvard Law School.

Chelvan, who has been an out gay man since his early 20s, has been practising in the field of LGBT+ asylum since 2001. He has earned a formidable reputation as the leading UK expert in this area having led some of the leading cases on the subject since 2005. He has also provided consultation to the United Nations, government departments and NGOs. One of his principal accomplishments was the development of the Difference, Stigma, Shame and Harm (DSSH) model in 2011. This globally recognised model, endorsed by the United Nations, is a non-judgemental and less intrusive method of questioning used to determine the credibility of LGBT+ individuals seeking asylum.