Stonewall ‘split’ after 30 years of campaigning

31 October 2019

Carys Moseley comments on the recent news of a split in LGBT campaign group Stonewall.

Right now the most important LGBT news story in the UK is that prominent members and supporters of Stonewall have left it to form a new organisation called the LGB Alliance. The reason given was a fundamental disagreement over Stonewall’s stance for increased transgender rights.

The press has been abuzz over the past week with the question as to whether this amounted to a split. Stonewall’s official response, repeated by Third Sector magazine, is that The Times and The Telegraph headlines about a ‘split’ were misleading. Strictly speaking, Stonewall is right, as the organisation did not decide to split into two nor did any current staff or trustees defect to the LGB Alliance. However, it is reasonable to speak of a splitting-off of prominent members, including some founder members. In this sense the Stonewall statement is an attempt at papering over obvious cracks.

Stonewall members are leaving

Stonewall’s official statement then said this:

There is no equality for lesbian, gay and bi people without equality for trans people. We’re all united in our mission to achieving acceptance without exception for all LGBT people.

The LBG Alliance will hold its formal launch in the New Year. On 22 September a letter to The Sunday Times was signed by 22 LGB activists including Simon Fanshaw, who helped found Stonewall. The letter set out their concerns candidly. They included alarm at children in primary schools being led to doubt their identity as male or female due to transgender ideology. They also criticise the way in which Stonewall’s fight for transgender rights clashes with women’s sex-based rights, citing treatment of FGM and the right to abortion as well as the right to fertility treatments.

Stonewall branded ‘homophobic’

What is truly extraordinary about this story is how LGB activists are accusing Stonewall of being homophobic because it supports transgender rights. This must feel rather insulting for Stonewall, which made gay rights campaigning a mainstream cause.

Former Stonewall fundraiser Kate Harris led the charge, arguing (rather simplistically) that gay people have nothing in common with transgender people. She said:

There is nothing that homosexuals have in common with transgender people …We are LGB because of a sexual attraction, we want the world to change to be accommodating of us. Trans people want to change to fit into what we believe is an old-fashioned set of values.

What this means is that like many lesbian and bisexual women she argues that Stonewall’s advice to the government that gender identity should be taught in primary schools encourages girls who are tomboys, some of whom become lesbians later, to undergo gender reassignment and live as ‘trans men’.

LGB activists considered transphobic

Sections of the left-wing/liberal press such as The Independent and Huffington Post UK were quick to republish accusations that the breakaway LGB activists are transphobic. Mainly, these claims were made by individuals on social media, and the basic argument was that LGB and transgender activists should stick together to work for equality in society. No particular reason tends to be given for this line.

Fighting over children

The core of this infighting is over children. LGBT activists are considered homophobic for wanting to allow school children to learn about gender identity, because this makes it more likely that children whom LGB activists consider would otherwise grow up to be gay or lesbian, will grow up to be transgendered.

LGB activists are considered transphobic for not wanting to allow school children to learn about gender identity, which in the eyes of LGBT activists means suppressing some children’s ‘true transgender’ identity.

Who are the LGB Alliance activists

Let’s look at the list of 22 signatories of The Sunday Times letter. News outlets such as The Telegraph have drawn particular attention to comments by one of them, Bev Jackson, a co-founder of the Gay Liberation Front in 1970. She complains that transgender activism has had a negative effect on younger lesbians, making the radical feminist argument that those among them who do not conform to ‘traditional gender stereotypes’ feel enormous pressure to live as female-to-male transgender people.

Then there are several influential television broadcasters such as Eileen Gallagher and Maureen Chadwick. Darren Johnson, a former member of the London Assembly, also signed the letter.

Pink News caught in the middle

Simon Fanshawe, another co-signatory, was one of the fourteen original trustees of Stonewall when it was founded in 1989. This time last year the LGBT news site Pink News awarded him and several other founders a Lifetime achievement award at the annual Pink News awards. The others who received the award included Lisa Power, author of the history of the Gay Liberation Front, Jennie Wilson, Olivette Cole-Wilson, Michael Cashman, Duncan Campbell and Times journalist Matthew Paris, who has admitted that many ‘gay’ men could just as well be straight.

This year however, Pink News seemed rather dismayed by the infighting within Stonewall. It did not report directly on the dispute as did the mainstream press. Instead it published an article focussing narrowly on the fact that complaints about comments made by Allison Bailey, the lawyer who announced the formation of the LGB Alliance on twitter, was being investigated by her own law firm Garden Court Chambers. The reason seems to be that she is critical of transgender activism. In this respect Pink News is effectively promoting gender identity over recognition of biological sex.

Tony Blair gets it wrong about Stonewall activism

The award was presented by former Labour prime minister Tony Blair, a convert from the Church of England to Roman Catholicism. In giving the award, Blair said this:

Their greatest achievement was changing the cultural landscape…they reached out and brought people on side. They liberated the nation’s mind and won its heart.

With all due respect to Tony Blair, he is wrong to say that Stonewall ‘won the heart’ of the people of the United Kingdom. It has not really done so. Indeed its response to the findings of the government’s LGBT survey last year reveal continuous worry about the fact that homosexual identity is not fully 100% accepted today. Transgenderism is generally less accepted than homosexuality in society.

What will happen to Stonewall’s influence?

Over nearly a quarter of a century now, Stonewall has built up enormous influence on government, big business and the charity sector in terms of normalising homosexuality and demonising objections to it. It has built up its Workplace Diversity Champions network linked to its Workplace Equality Index, aiming at big business and public sector institutions. It has built a Stonewall Schools’ Champions network that has led to teachers, parents and governors becoming activists on its behalf, aggressively campaigning against all opposition. It has produced re-education training on transgender ideology for universities that is a serious threat to academic integrity and freedom of speech. It enjoys massive amounts of corporate sponsorship as well as £600,000 a year of government funding.

Stonewall has only been supporting transgender rights since Ruth Hunt, a practicing Roman Catholic, became its CEO in 2014. However, transgender ideology is now deeply woven into the entire fabric and ethos of the organisation, and as such it was only a matter of time before many long-standing supporters would break away.

Stonewall’s stranglehold over the corporate world and the public sector was built up on the normalisation of homosexuality. Transgender rights have proven to be even more divisive in society. Now that prominent long-standing supporters are walking away, it is worth watching to see whether organisations that have up until now provided sponsorship and corporate backing will also pull back. In addition, it will be important to watch who backs the new LGB Alliance. For given that these are the sorts of people who bullied the public into accepting homosexuality on pain of losing their jobs and reputation, why would anybody want to support them?

Christian Concern stands up to Stonewall

However, Stonewall is not invincible and speaking up against unrighteous practices can have a positive effect. Between 2006 and 2015 it held an annual Stonewall Awards event which included different categories. One of these was the ‘Bully of the Year Award’ which was changed to ‘Bigot of the Year Award’ in 2007. An outspoken critic of the LGB agenda in public life would be singled out – in his or her absence – for particular vilification. Typically, Christians, and sometimes Jews, were targeted for their Bible-based beliefs on prohibition of same-sex behaviour. Those nominated included Anthony Priddis, Iris Robinson, Jan Moir, Father John Owen, Chris Grayling, Melanie Phillips, Cardinal Keith O’Brien and Pat Robertson.

When Roman Catholic Cardinal Keith O’Brien was nominated in October 2012 Christian Concern pressured three banks, Barclays, Price Waterhouse Cooper and Coutt’s Bank, which is the Queen’s bank, to withdraw from sponsoring the award.

The Bigot of the Year award was given for the last time to American evangelical broadcaster Pat Robertson in 2013, perhaps a sign that Stonewall sensed that the British public would not warm to its regular attacks on respected high-profile public figures from the UK. Two years later in 2015, Ruth Hunt, who was then CEO of Stonewall, told Pink News that the Stonewall Awards were being discontinued ‘because they are no longer needed in the modern landscape’. Although her focus was on Stonewall having ‘won’ the culture war for normalising homosexuality, even back then she was speaking about ‘LGBT’ not just ‘LGB’ issues, something that would increasingly annoy many supporters. It is hard not to see in all this that the confrontation with the ‘Bigot of the Year’ award put a dent into Stonewall’s approach and made it reconsider the entire awards system, given that from the beginning there had been a category devoted to personally attacking critics.

End this exploitation of children

Stonewall was originally formed in order to repeal Section 28, a clause in education legislation that forbade the promotion and thus the normalisation of homosexuality in schools. Many readers will remember this campaign as a very aggressive one indeed.

Now it seems LGB and T infighting is increasing and is not set to stop. The truth is that the transgender activists are using very similar aggressive shaming and bullying tactics that LGB activists used to use. Will the public tolerate the existence of two separate camps both of whose members have spent their working lives behaving in this manner? How will parents who have children in primary and secondary schools respond to all of this?

There is one basic response that we can and should make to all of this, which is that this fighting over children needs to be stopped. It is futile to try to take sides for example with the LGB Alliance because it opposes transgender ideology, because it is peddling the myth that ‘transkids’ are all really gay or lesbian underneath. The true answer to all of this is to throw this lobbying and exploitation of children out of schools altogether and to put an end to the sexualisation of children as well as to experimentation on their bodies.

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