Cancelled artist who questioned puberty blockers takes legal action

18 March 2024

A Christian artist is taking legal action against a local council after being banned from her own exhibition and reported to the police for saying, while making a cup of tea, that it is harmful for children to try and change their sex.

The case comes after the NHS announced a ban on puberty blockers being prescribed for children.

Mrs Victoria Culf, 43, an artist for 20 years, feared a knock on the door and being arrested in front of her children after Watford Borough Council representatives told her the police were investigating her for her comments.

It transpired that after The Times approached the police to ask about the status of the ‘hate crime’ report, they were told that a ‘non-crime hate incident’ had been recorded against Mrs Culf’s name without her knowledge.

However, in light of Harry Miller’s High Court win against The College of Policing, which described the recording of ‘non-crime hate incidents’ as a ‘significant interference with the right to freedom of expression’, and therefore illegal, the police swiftly backtracked and said that Victoria’s comments had in fact not met the threshold of a ‘non-crime hate incident.’

This does, however, suggest that the police believe that there are comments that would meet the threshold and would be recorded against a member of the public’s name, without their knowledge, and despite the High Court ruling.

While setting up an art exhibition at Watford Museum, which Mrs Culf independently funded and produced in June 2023, a conversation was initiated with her on transgender ideology by a council employee.

The council employee, who was already known to Mrs Culf, revealed that her child was ‘socially transitioning’, that they had tried to get puberty blockers from the Tavistock Gender Identity Clinic, and that as a family they had been affirmed and supported by other people.

Stirring the tea, Mrs Culf politely and sensitively said that because of her Christian beliefs and her experience working with children and young people, she believed ‘transitioning’ is harmful.

She said that she believed that the discredited Tavistock Clinic, which has been plagued by scandal, should be shut down, and said that the human brain doesn’t stop developing until around the age 24 and therefore ‘children are too young to properly assess risk.’

She added that: ‘I wouldn’t be being true to myself if I agreed with you.’

They discussed the matter further and then the conversation ended calmly and amicably.

The consequences for expressing her beliefs, however, were devastating.

Enraged that Mrs Culf had not affirmed her and her extreme beliefs on transgenderism, later that day the council worker shared an angry post on X/Twitter saying she had been ‘subjected’ to a ‘transphobic rant.’

Following the conversation and this post, Mrs Culf received a call from the council telling her that there had been allegations of ‘harassment’, and she could not enter the exhibition without giving 24 hours’ notice because the council had to ‘safeguard’ the council worker.

Furthermore, she was told that the police were investigating her for a ‘hate crime’ and that she needed to prepare a statement.

Her artwork was subsequently broken at the exhibition.

Meanwhile, she was excluded from a community art project organised by a private company, BEEE Creative, allegedly under pressure from the council. BEEE Creative told her that her contract would have to be terminated because the council had banned her from the Museum and her participation in the project was no longer practically possible.

Supported by the Christian Legal Centre, Mrs Culf is now taking legal action against Watford Borough Council on the grounds of breach of contract, discrimination, harassment, misfeasance in public office, negligence, intimidation, defamation, conspiracy, and malicious falsehood.

Revealingly, when Mrs Culf lodged a formal Data Subject Access Request, the council failed to share the documents, correspondence and WhatsApp messages which would reveal the decision-making process behind the council’s actions against her. Neither were the council’s interactions with BEEE Creative shared.

Mrs Culf is seeking damages, a written formal apology, and restrictions on her going to the museum to be lifted. She will also seek a retraction of the allegations made to be given to all parties, and a commitment by the council that nothing like this will happen again.

‘Shocked and afraid’

Launching the legal claim, Mrs Culf said:

“When I received the call to tell me that the police were investigating me, I was so shocked. I was afraid that the police were going to turn up on my doorstep at any moment and arrest me in front of my children.

“I was told by the council that: ‘There have been allegations of harassment…You need to get a statement together because the police are involved.’ They also told me that I was not allowed into the exhibition as they had to ‘safeguard’ . 

“It was just complete madness to me. The conversation I had had was calm and considered and I had expressed care and concern for her family. What I did not do was affirm another child ‘transitioning’ to another gender backed by their parents and getting puberty blockers from the discredited Tavistock Clinic.

“During my work and life experience I have experienced children and young people regretting all sorts of decisions, and continually changing their minds as they grow and develop. The trouble with medical transitioning is its permanent. My conscience and Christian beliefs will not allow me to lie over something that I believe to be very harmful. Are we supposed to be silent and allow the harm to continue unchecked?

“We are now living in a culture where for just expressing opposition to transgender ideology, even politely, can lead to you being reported to the police. I am aware that me speaking out could be ‘commercial suicide’, but I am not prepared to be silent on these issues and I don’t want this to happen to anyone else. 

“At first what happened really knocked my confidence and made me doubt myself and my sense of reality. I was depressed and as an artist struggled to motivate myself as the strength of the attack made me feel unqualified. My faith has kept me going, and I cannot waiver from what I know to be the truth.

“I am determined to fight for justice and to speak about what has happened to me. I believe there are probably many other Christian artists, and artists from all walks of life, who have been treated similarly and have had to suffer in silence.”

Sanity must prevail

Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, which is backing the case, said:

“Victoria has the courage to speak into her colleague’s situation because of her love for Jesus and love for her colleague and their child. 

“It is a disturbing trend in society when Victoria who was motivated by kindness and compassion is subjected to such extreme punishment merely for expressing Christian truth.

“Allowing and encouraging a child to take puberty blockers is harmful. To be punished for expressing concern on this shows us how all pervasive and tyrannical the trans lobby has become.  

“We cannot allow this trans tyranny in our culture to trample over beliefs that are protected in law, backed by expert evidence and which truly safeguard vulnerable children.

“Sanity must prevail. The fear that professionals feel over speaking truth on these must end.

“Victoria is a brilliant and talented artist who loves Jesus and cares deeply about vulnerable children and their well-being. We will stand with Victoria as she fights for justice.”

Further background

For 15 years, Mrs Culf had had an unblemished and positive working relationship with the council including contributing to the council’s cultural strategy. She had also been involved in ‘Kickstarter’ grants which provide arts projects in local primary schools and worked at the museum offering family arts activities between 2008- 2009.

On 2 March 2023, Mrs Culf entered a contract with BEEE Creative CIO to participate in its ‘Perform Transform’ program of art workshops and other activities over two years in 2023-2024. That project, funded by the council, envisaged that Mrs Culf, in collaboration with BEEE Creative, would plan and deliver a series of events at Watford Museum unrelated to Mrs Culf’s privately executed Legacy exhibition.

On the 6 June 2023, Mrs Culf had a casual conversation with a council worker, during a tea break whilst setting up her own, unrelated, art exhibition: Legacy.

The council worker began speaking about how her child was ‘transitioning’ to another ‘gender’ and proactively wanted to engage Mrs Culf in a conversation on transgenderism.

Mrs Culf politely and sensitively expressed her Christian gender-critical beliefs.

The council worker had said that their child was ‘socially-transitioning’ and had changed their name. She said that as a family they had had nothing but support over allowing their child to do this. The council worker then offered to explain how socially transitioning works.

Mrs Culf said that because of her Christian faith and her experience supporting children with mental health issues said: ‘I wouldn’t be being true to myself if I agreed with you’ but said that the council worker would know ‘what was best for her family.’

The council worker then said ‘we’ve had a lot of support, even from people of faith’, and spoke about getting puberty blockers from the Tavistock Gender Identity Clinic.

Mrs Culf then explained that she has been really vocal that the Tavistock Clinic needed to be shut down and revealed that she was against children ‘transitioning’ and that human brains don’t stop developing until they are 24.

Speaking about how many stories she had heard about ‘de-transitioners’ online who deeply regret trying to change their gender during childhood, she said that she believed that ‘any kind of medical transitioning of children under 18 is tantamount to child abuse.’

She added that ‘children are too young to know what they want.’

Cancellation and police report

On the 8 June, Mrs Culf received a call from Semeta Bloomfield, the Community Commissioning Lead at the council who told her that she had to give 24-hours’ notice before coming to the exhibition. She was, however, told that she could continue to exhibit her work.

Following this call, it is understood that either the council or the council worker, or both, contacted the police about Mrs Culf’s Christian gender-critical beliefs saying that a ‘hate crime’ had been committed.

Over the course of the following week, Mrs Culf was informed that her artwork had been damaged and the council failed to advertise her work as part of the exhibition.

BEEE Creative were then pressurised to terminate Mrs Culf’s separate contract and caving into pressure they duly obliged on 4 August 2023.

Mrs Culf has now launched legal action against Watford Borough Council and the council worker, making claims for breach of contract, discrimination, harassment, misfeasance in public office, negligence, intimidation, defamation, conspiracy, and malicious falsehood.

Following Mrs Culf’s Data Subject Access Request, the council has incredibly claimed that no documentation, for example demonstrating why they chose to report Mrs Culf to the police, exists.

Find out more about Victoria Culf
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