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Stonewall came tumbling down

For years the charity has deflected criticism with its rainbow shield — but not anymore

Artillery Row

After 32 years of campaigning, Stonewall still haven’t got the hang of dealing with criticism. Instead, when faced with disagreement the LGBT+ charity giant prefers to stick its head in the sand.

On 22 August, the Mail on Sunday published an article I wrote detailing the views of Surrey Police and Crime Commissioner Lisa Townsend. Townsend’s opinion is that Stonewall policies on gender self-identification risk undermining the rights of women and girls. Her view was welcomed by domestic abuse charities in Surrey.

Stonewall didn’t engage with the PCC, or reflect on its policies. Instead, Europe’s biggest LGBT charity blocked my professional Twitter account. When I emailed asking whether it was their policy to block journalists with whom they disagree, my question was ignored.

The Tax Payers’ Alliance estimate that over the past three years Stonewall received at least £3,105,877 from a total of 3,127 public sector organisations. This is in addition to £702,295 from nine government grants. Given this hefty chunk of public money, one might expect the charity to feel some obligation to be accountable. This is not the case.

For many years criticism was deflected by Stonewall’s “rainbow shield” a reputation as righteous winners in historic battles for equality. But, around four years ago, debates over the reform of the Gender Recognition Act saw the public begin to question why so many employers were failing to collect data on sex and why women’s spaces had been rebranded “all-gender”. Stonewall was the common denominator.

Stonewall has been left trying to explain why the charity now holds that some lesbians have penises

In 2015 the organisation was quite upfront about this, lobbying to update the Equality Act (2010) to replace the protected characteristic of “sex” with “gender identity” and to remove exemptions, such as access to single-sex spaces. This chimes with the decision of Ruth Hunt, Stonewall’s chief executive of the time, to add the “T” to the LGB. Following a consultation with 700 trans people under Hunt’s leadership, Stonewall accepted a donation to “integrate trans-specific work” into its campaigns. Lesbians, gays and bisexuals were not consulted. This laid a new path for Stonewall; today the charity argues that we are each defined by our “gender identity” and that our sex is irrelevant.

In 2019 Hunt left Stonewall and slipped into an ermine-trimmed robe to become Baroness Hunt of Bethnal Green. Her hapless successor Nancy Kelley has been left trying to explain why the charity now holds that some lesbians have penises.

Accordingly, Stonewall have changed their own definition of homosexual to read a “term used to describe someone who has a romantic and/or sexual orientation towards someone of the same gender”. Somewhat inconveniently, many homosexuals persist with the politically incorrect view that sex is central to sexual orientation.

Stonewall currently boasts 900 members of its Diversity Champions programme, a scheme whereby employers pay a fee to have their policies vetted. The charity also has a host of other money-making and training ventures, including a Workplace Equality Index (WEI) where organisations are ranked according to how closely they meet Stonewall’s definition of “inclusion”.

This year, a series of investigations have shone a light into the shadowy workings of Stonewall. May saw the publication of a report on the no-platforming of feminist academics at University of Essex. The report was damning about the influence of Stonewall, recommending that the university “devise a strategy for countering the drawbacks and potential illegalities” of following the charity’s guidance. In response, Stonewall complained that they were the innocent target of “deliberately organised” attacks. Shortly following this, Equalities Minister Liz Truss advised government departments to leave Stonewall-run schemes.

Pundits and politicians have begun to question how Stonewall has come to hold such sway over policy

By June, poor Kelley seemed at a loss as to why the public were no longer willing to accept that “Stonewall knows best”. What happened next will doubtless be cited for years to come as an example of how not to conduct public relations. When asked by the BBC to respond to the accusation that the organisation’s hard-line stance was stifling freedom of speech, Kelley compared “gender critical beliefs” (i.e., understanding that there are two sexes and humans cannot change sex), to antisemitism. Unsurprisingly, Stonewall refused to send anyone to debate their trans policies on the Today programme the following week.

The rolling coverage of Stonewall’s public relations disasters has been so entertaining that it has almost obscured the updated aims of the charity. Hanging onto the skirts of transgenderism is a bizarre host of identities: Stonewall now advocates for “greysexuals”, “abrosexuals” and even cross-dressers. The growing pool of people Stonewall claims to support, offers endless opportunities to “wokesplain” new identities to companies eager to appear “inclusive”.

At last, pundits and politicians have begun to question how Stonewall has come to hold such sway over policy. Journalists have crowded round to pull bricks out of the tottering charity, wondering which one will finally see it collapse. As with the culture wars of the US, those chipping away are from the right and centre of the political spectrum. The dearth of left-wing politicians and outlets willing to dissect Stonewall’s problems has allowed the charity to position itself as a victim of a hostile right-wing press.

Make no mistake, the public has lost patience with their money being wasted on campaigns which exist to do little more than pay the mortgages of Kelley and co. But sexual orientation is not something that can be opted out of when the pendulum swings back.

When the greysexuals have settled-down in the suburbs in their heterosexual relationships, it will be the lesbians, gay men and bisexuals who are left to pick up the pieces of Stonewall’s failure.

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