Lord Justice (Terrence) Etherton, the first senior judge to be in a civil partnership, has been appointed as Chancellor of the High Court, or head of the Chancery Division. The post is one of the most senior judicial roles in England and Wales.

Having worked as a barrister since 1997, Sir Terrence has been in a civil partnership since 2006.

In 2008, Sir Terence became the first openly gay Lord Justice of Appeal. At the time he told PinkNews.co.uk: “My appointment also shows that diversity in sexuality is not a bar to preferment up to the highest levels of the judiciary.”

He spent two years as chairman of the Law Commission, the Government’s legal reform body. In that time the commission had been responsible for showing, what was described by campaigners as “enlightened thinking” on some very sensitive and important areas of the law particularly in regards to gender and sexuality.

Sir Terrence will take up his new role on 11 January 2013. He shares his start date with the new head of the High Court’s Family Division, Lord Justice (James) Munby a strong supporter of equality for gay people.