Gay charity Stonewall today welcomed a Law Society report highlighting the homophobia faced by lesbians and gay men working in large City law firms.

The report into the working experiences of lesbian and gay lawyers in the workplace found that the dominant macho culture in many of the firms made it difficult for gay staff to come out.

Many of those interviewed for the report said they felt that regular drinking sessions, visits to lap-dancing clubs and rugby matches had “undertones of homophobia”.

The report also called on law firms to challenge the perception of discrimination against gay lawyers.

Ben Summerskill, chief executive of Stonewall, said: “There is a serious problem in many big law firms just as there is in many other parts of the city. We welcome the fact the Law Society has drawn attention to this.”

“In 2006 law firms don’t only need to show they’re able to recruit and retain lesbian and gay staff, they need to demonstrate these staff can rise to the top of the business.”

Stephen Frost, Stonewall Director of Workplace Programmes, said: “We now work with seven leading law firms as members of our Diversity Champions programme.

“These law firms, such as Clifford Chance, Pinsent Masons and Herbert Smith, are committed to improving the working environment for their lesbian and gay staff, and they’re ahead of the majority of practices which have to start seriously addressing discrimination at work.”