Maya Forstater’s victory

Maya’s vindication in court is a triumph for all women

Artillery Row

It’s been a long road to victory for Maya Forstater, but hopefully that makes it taste all the sweeter. An employment tribunal back in 2019 didn’t even bother to hear her case for unfair discrimination, chucking it out at the earliest stage on the basis that her belief that sex is real and it matters was not worthy of respect in a democratic society

And yet she persisted. She took that finding to the Employment Appeal Tribunal and won in June 2021. She was then able to return to the Employment Tribunal and argue that she had been unfairly treated on the basis of that gender critical belief. 

The Employment Tribunal today unaminously decided that her employers, the Centre For Global Development, had acted to unlawfully discriminate against Ms Forstater on the basis of her protected beliefs by not offering her an employment contract, not renewing her visiting fellowship; and removing her from its website. 

As her solicitor Peter Daly explained via Twitter, she made her case in the alternative on harassment — having won squarely on her discrimination case, she could not “win again on harassment, so those claims were dismissed. That does not however mean they were not well founded or — as some would claim — she “lost 60 per cent of her case.

Once lost, such rights are difficult to restore

Whether Ms Forstater won or lost today, thanks to the EAT, she had already won. The earlier recognition of “gender critical belief as “worthy of respect in a democratic society has been an essential element of efforts to restore sanity and the rule of law, in face of a collective societal madness that seeks to deny not only the existence of sex but the right to have any discussion.

Yet there is no doubt that the decision of the ET today is also a significant victory. As JK Rowling tweeted in support: “Every woman who’s been harassed, silenced, bullied or lost employment because of her gender critical beliefs is freer and safer today…”

Maya Forstater will take her well-deserved place in legal history alongside Harry Miller — two private citizens who experienced significant injustice and yet had the courage and resilience to take on years of hugely stressful and expensive proceedings, to re-affirm their fundamental human rights. They should never have had to do this. It is a shame upon our judicial system and our public bodies that they did. But we should all be very grateful that they not merely fought but won. The price of failure would have been our Article 10 rights to freedom of expression. And once lost, such rights are difficult to restore. 

Enjoying The Critic online? It's even better in print

Try five issues of Britain’s newest magazine for £10

Critic magazine cover