Britain’s human rights watchdog has not renewed its membership of a diversity scheme run by LGBT group Stonewall. The Equality and Human Rights Commission says it told Stonewall it would be leaving the Diversity Champions scheme in March.
Members pay Stonewall a fee and allow it to vet their internal policies, such as who can use their toilets and changing facilities and membership is not cheap with most organisations paying thousands of pounds for membership, some in the LGBT community question, whats the money is spent on and whether more support should go to local LGBT groups and organisations.
The EHRC says it “did not constitute the best value for money”.
Many LGBT Campaigners have warned that there will be a “flood” of departures from the Stonewall Diversity Champions Scheme
Simon Fanshawe OBE was one of Stonewall’s founders; he believes the charity has strayed from its core purpose and that it is now “entirely devoted to political conformity.” “Stonewall is no longer an advisor and campaigner on lesbian and gay equality. Instead, it has set itself up as the arbiter of who is the right kind of gay. It’s tells any gay man or lesbian who does not agree with its gender ideology that they have put themselves ‘outside Stonewall’.”
Fanshawe is far from alone in his criticism of Stonewall. Allison Bailey is a lesbian barrister with concerns about the embedding of gender ideology in institutions. Bailey alleges that Stonewall colluded with her employer to remove her and is suing both.
In an attempt to deflect from negative coverage Stonewall launched a new strategy with the strapline ‘Free to be.’ But there is no freedom for gay men like Simon Fanshawe or lesbians like Allison Bailey to be critical of gender ideology. Having undermined its foundations by alienating same-sex attracted people, it seems Stonewall may finally be about to fall.
As scrutiny of the programme grows, last week Stonewalls has taken the list of its 850 members suddenly from public view on the Stonewall website.
Several major organisations on the list confirmed when speaking with the Telegraph newspaper that they have also left, though this was not related to the EHRC’s decision and they all stressed their commitment to inclusion and equality.
The House of Commons said it did not renew its membership for 2020. The Driver & Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) said it exited in December, while Acas, the employment dispute service, said it had withdrawn “for cost reasons” last June.
Dorset Police, one of multiple forces previously listed as part of the scheme, said it is now not a member. The Ministry of Housing, Communities, and Local Government said it left in 2019.
Meanwhile, the Crown Prosecution Service, which faced a legal challenge over its trans guidance, said: “We are reviewing our Stonewall membership and will shortly make a decision on whether to continue this.”
Nancy Kelley, Stonewall’s chief executive, said the charity was proud of its work supporting organisations to create inclusive working environments, but added that it was “up to individual employers how they meet their statutory requirements”.
But the scheme is not without controversy – earlier this week an independent report commissioned by the University of Essex found that Stonewall gave it incorrect and potentially illegal advice on transgender issues.
News that the EHRC left the scheme in March comes just days after Stonewall and several other LGBT groups criticised the organisation in an open letter, saying it was not doing enough to champion LGBT rights.
The letter followed a Times interview in May in which Lady Falkner, who was appointed head of the EHRC in December, said that women must have the right to question transgender identity without being abused, stigmatised or risking losing their job.
A spokesman for the EHRC said: “We remain committed to creating an inclusive workplace that will attract people from all backgrounds, where all of our colleagues will thrive and where all LGBT employees are accepted without exception.”