Picture credit: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images
Artillery Row

Scotland’s shame

Stonewall’s grip on Holyrood has been strengthened — to the detriment of women

Stonewall’s grip on the Scottish Government is now complete after the announcement of the Gender Recognition Act reform bill in Scotland yesterday. This was the final aim: to reduce biological sex to such irrelevance in law and public policy that anyone can choose to have the sex marker changed on their birth certificate by simple self-declaration. If this bill is passed it will effectively legislate the Stonewall mantra “trans women are women”.

The Scottish Government’s slavish obedience to the dictates of Stonewall has resulted in a legislative muddle when it comes to sex and gender. The outcomes of two recent court cases in Scotland have left the government in an embarrassing predicament entirely of its own making.

While sex (according to this bill) is now a matter of self-identity and will be recorded as such in the census, in the case of the Gender Representation on Public Boards Act the court ruled against self-ID as this would change the nature of the protected characteristic of “sex” — a reserved matter under the Equality Act 2010.

The appeal court ruling in the census case reinforced this point. Despite ruling against the appeal brought by Fair Play for Women, important case law was upheld, maintaining biological sex must be recorded in prescribed circumstances involving status, proof of identity or other important rights.

The problem here is that conferring status and rights depends on accurate data. You can’t defend the rights of women if your data can’t reliably distinguish between men and women. And policies to promote Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) are useless if you can’t monitor them.

You can’t defend the rights of women if your data can’t reliably distinguish between men and women

Scotland is left with contradictory rules on capturing data on the key demographic variable of sex. The Scottish Government must now advise public bodies not to follow their lead by conflating sex and gender identity in data collection as this data will not be suitable for equality monitoring purposes. In fact, the result of the two court cases means that the government must revise its own existing guidance on data collection — which begs the question as to why it fought so hard to win the case for self-identity of sex in the census and why it ploughed ahead with GRA reform without considering the legitimate concerns of women.

EDI policies now routinely exclude the protected characteristic of sex, and not only in Scotland (the website Sex. Not gender handily provides a list of over 500 companies, charities, public authorities and government departments that do this). Wherever you look, women — the female sex, as legally defined in the Equality Act — are missing in Equality monitoring policies; and it seems that, whenever you search for the origins of this erasure, the road leads back to Stonewall.

The Scottish Government comes in at number 89 on Stonewall’s recently published Workplace Equality Index Top 100; but it is not only members of Stonewall’s Diversity Champions or Workplace Equality schemes which are doing this. The Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) is a regulatory body for health and care professionals. It aims to be recognised as “an organisation that actively upholds and promotes best practice in equality, diversity and inclusion”, according to their Diversity Data Report 2021. Yet, it notably excludes sex within its list of protected characteristics.

The explanation is as follows:

The equality act lists sex as a protected characteristic. However, the DAISY guidance suggests that questions relating to gender are more helpful for diversity and inclusion monitoring, so the registrant survey includes a question relating to gender rather than sex.

Who has decided to overwrite the Equality Act because some other word is “more helpful?”

The DAISY guidance was written by Dr Emma Molyneaux & the Wellcome Trust D&I Team, and supported by Equality, Diversity and Inclusion in Science and Health. The Wellcome Trust is ranked 94 on Stonewall’s Top 100 Employers 2022 list.

The question replacing “sex” is as follows:

Which of the following best describes your gender?

  • Man
  • Non-binary
  • Woman
  • Prefer to self-describe (please describe)
  • Prefer not to say

And this is the explanation given for the change:

For D&I monitoring we are usually interested in gender, a socially constructed concept, rather than sex, which relates to biological characteristics. However, sometimes questions are asked around sex because the Equality Act 2010 lists sex as the protected characteristic rather than gender. It is correct to use “woman” and “man” when asking about gender, rather than male and female which relate to sex.

Put simply, the word “woman” has been redefined as an idea for the purposes of data monitoring.

You don’t have to look far to discover who influenced the DAISY guidance. It is based, we are told, on combining guidance from IX Interactions, the Human Rights Campaign and Stonewall, with a link to Stonewall’s “Do Ask, Do Tell” guide, published in 2016.

One of a series of global resources, “Do Ask, Do Tell” is a guide on “capturing data on sexual orientation and gender identity globally”. It includes links to Stonewall’s Global Diversity Champions scheme and Global Workplace Equality Index.

The rest of the UK cannot be complacent

“Do Ask, Do Tell” advises organisations on asking LGBT questions as part of a larger set of optional demographic questions, and adding LGBT data collection questions to anonymous staff satisfaction and engagement surveys. It tells us that “gender identity refers to a person’s deeply held sense of their own gender” and that “for trans people, their own sense of who they are does not match the sex that society assigns to them when they are born.”

It also explains that:

The following questions enable organisations to collect data on gender identity in an inclusive way. Firstly, if an organisation asks a question about gender, employees should be able to describe their gender in their own words. This signals an understanding that gender is a wider spectrum than female and male. It also allows an organisation to capture data on employees that do not identify as trans but also do not identify as female or male.

The question suggested is:

What best describes your gender?

  • Female
  • Male
  • Prefer not to say
  • Prefer to self-describe

Stonewall performs a sleight of hand here, using the word “gender” but giving the options for sex: “male” or “female”.

“Do Ask, Do Tell” sheds light on Stonewall’s rules for data capture, and the ideological reasons for it. Barclays, who sponsored the guide, is ranked 100th in Stonewall’s Workplace Equality Index 2022 and examples from Ernst & Young (ranked 89th alongside the Scottish Government) and Citi (11th) are also used in the guide. The example of the HCPC shows how these rules can filter down to non-Stonewall affiliated bodies, seemingly without any scrutiny.

While the Scottish Government has proved itself to be totally in thrall to Stonewall’s gender ideology, the rest of the UK cannot be complacent. When Stonewall is allowed to write the rules, we will get EDI policies that exclude protected groups, reduce diversity and make equality objectives impossible to achieve.

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

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

Critic magazine cover