Debbie Hayton Debbie Hayton

Stonewall’s annus horribilis

Is there any way back for the LGBT charity?


The year 2021 has been an annus horribilis for Stonewall. For much of the last decade, the charity could do no wrong in the eyes of those who mattered. Stonewall’s influence cut straight into the heart of government. As Nikki da Costa, Boris Johnson’s former director of legislative affairs, pointed out:

‘There is no other organisation — no business, or charity, no matter how big — that can pick up the phone to a special adviser sitting outside Boris Johnson’s office and get that person to speak directly to the Prime Minister. But that is the kind of access that Stonewall has’

Through its Diversity Champions Programme, Stonewall advised businesses, police, NHS Trusts and universities. Yet during the last twelve months, the wheels fell off the wagon: high-profile organisations sought to distance themselves from Stonewall; even the BBC opted to cut ties with the charity’s workplace equality scheme.

This reckoning was overdue: for too long, Stonewall has been on something of a trans-crusade. In doing so, it prioritised the T over the LGB. ‘Acceptance without exception for trans people,’ was one of its slogans. If that’s as far as it went, there would be no problem. But Stonewall has been pushing an ideology that goes much further: the promotion of gender identity over and above biological sex. 2021 is the year where the tide turned. So what went so wrong for Stonewall?

In May, Essex University apologised to two academics, professor Rosa Freedman and professor Jo Phoenix, following a damming report by barrister Akua Reindorf. The pair had been treated appallingly by the university: both were silenced for daring to question whether trans rights activists were stifling free speech. Reindorf was also highly critical of Stonewall-inspired policy adopted by the University:

‘The policy is reviewed annually by Stonewall, and its incorrect summary of the law does not appear to have been picked up by them. In my view the policy states the law as Stonewall would prefer it to be, rather than the law as it is.

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