Photo by Tristan Fewings/Getty Images for Pride in London
Artillery Row

Stonewall’s cop coup backfires

How an institution betrayed its own ideals

It wasn’t supposed to be like this, was it? Lesbians being thrown off Pride — by rainbow flag-waving cops. 

The events in Cardiff in which gays were excluded from a march which historically was set up by and for gay people was only the most startling recent example of how the police are taking sides on a dispute within the gay community. The cops almost universally back the new super woke LGBTQ+ crowd who think gender identity rules supreme against the old skool gays and lesbians who argue that biological sex matters. The lesbians in Cardiff who had their collars felt believe there’s a clue to the importance of sex in the words “same-sex attraction”.

Stonewall took a pivot for the worse in 2014

How did we get to this point where lesbians who don’t like penis and gay men who aren’t exactly hungry for vagina are threatened with being reported for hate crimes, or being removed from what was once the annual celebration of same-sex attraction?

There’s something of the Greek tragedy about this story with the gay movement cast as the unfortunate hero cursed with flaws that turn out to be his undoing — utter certainty, self-righteous moral superiority and those old mainstays of Greek myth: ambition and greed. 

Hubris. It’ll get you in the end.

Most people know the gay lobby group Stonewall took a pivot for the worse in 2014 when Ruth Hunt (now Baroness) turned it into a trans-obsessed organisation that undermines women’s single sex spaces and redefines gay people not as “same-sex” but as “same-gender” attracted, which basically means gay people fancy anyone — rather calling into question the point of being gay. Hunt inherited a charity not only in rude financial health but with unparalleled networking nous. She was also bequeathed an astonishing project to undermine police independence initiated by Stonewall but backed by the two governing political parties and the civil service. 

The project began with Hunt’s predecessor as CEO Ben Summerskill, who had a passionate interest in changing police attitudes. Before he became CEO, he had advised the first openly gay police officers when they set up the Gay Police Association in 1990. It was just one response to long-running and often justified complaints about police homophobia. In 1990, for example, five gay men had been murdered in quick succession, and police inactivity seemed in sharp contrast to the resources expended on the harassment and entrapment of gay men. This historical legacy no doubt gave an edge to Stonewall’s approach to the police under Summerskill which was marked by a distinct haughtiness.

In 2007, for example, when a group of Christians protested outside the House of Commons against clauses in a law they said would impact their religious liberties, Summerskill denounced the protest and said he was “shocked that the Metropolitan Police gave some fringe protesters permission to demonstrate outside Parliament … carrying posters inciting hatred against gay people”.

Weren’t fringe protestors allowed to protest any more? Luckily, the Met was not quite as supine as it has subsequently become and ignored Stonewall’s performative shock. The protesters complained that their posters didn’t say anything homophobic. They were right. BBC coverage showed placards defending free speech and religious freedom. The clauses being protested were later declared unlawful by the High Court in a Judicial Review. Stonewall should have read the room. It didn’t. 

The year before, Ben’s friends at the Gay Police Association had expressed the same tin-eared arrogance and got themselves into trouble with an advert which showed a Bible beside a pool of blood under the slogan, “In the Name of the Father” which claimed, “In the last 12 months, the GPA has recorded a 74 per cent increase in homophobic incidents, where the sole or primary motivating factor was the religious belief of the perpetrator.”

Twenty-two police forces signed up to be bullied relentlessly by Stonewall

The GPA was reprimanded by the Advertising Standards Authority, the Met promptly dismissed its statistics, and its ad was recorded as a religiously aggravated hate crime incident. What’s good for the goose.

A year after Stonewall’s attempt to strong arm the police into banning a legitimate protest by Christians, it began its attempt not just to influence the police but to insert itself deep within the force. The scale of the ambition of this project was expressed openly in Stonewall’s first Gay British Crime Report of 2008, which revealed extraordinary levels of distrust between gays and the justice system. This research was just what the Home Secretary Jacqui Smith ordered. Literally. We know that because, in a brilliant move, Ben Summerskill had managed to get an introduction to the Report penned by … Jacqui Smith who also just happened to acknowledge the government had paid for the research. Stonewall’s taxpayer-funded onslaught on the cops had been launched, and it was obviously sending the message that ordinary cops had better get in line.

This Report marked the official start of a decade-long cohabitation between the police top brass, civil servants in the Home Office, liberal politicians of both parties and the LGB, soon to be LGBT, lobby. 

The Report also contained 10 Recommendations, and you won’t get a medal if you guess what one of them was. Forces, it suggested, should “join Stonewall’s Diversity Champions”, in order to “access advice and support and “share knowledge and experience”. With the backing of no less than the Home Secretary herself, the cops were effectively being told to stop being independent and take their marching orders from a vested interest that would in time be alleged to have routinely misinterpreted the law. No one thought, at the time, to point out that this lobby group would have a financial incentive to move goalposts continually in order to push police management towards ever-more extreme solutions to problems only Stonewall could identify.

Stonewall also made sure it could undermine criticism within the force by insisting on local Pride or LGBTQ+ staff groups. Wherever these groups are set up, they effectively act as Stonewall’s eyes and ears. They parrot its policies on everything from pronouns to single sex spaces and amplify its demands. In 2018, for example, BBC top management, at Stonewall’s bidding, drew up a joint five year LGBT Plan in collaboration with the BBC’s Pride Group. By an amazing coincidence, there were no fewer than seven recommendations urging yet closer and even more remunerative links with … Stonewall. 

One of these was to set up a Straight Allies programme. This is an opportunity for woke straight people to promote Stonewall’s more controversial policy prescriptions. It meant, in effect, that Stonewall was now empowering straight blokes to lay down the law to lesbians or gays whom it considered too reactionary to realise what was best for them.

When the BBC left the Diversity Champions, the wailing from its Pride Group would have embarrassed North Korean television. All the same pressure was brought to bear on police forces. Extraordinarily (given this is, after all, the police force) no one else could hope to track Stonewall’s influence. Like all its clients, every force had to sign contracts committing them to confidentiality.

In 2008, 22 forces signed up to be bullied relentlessly by Stonewall, its Pride Groups, its Champions scheme and its attitude of “zero tolerance” to whatever it defined as homophobia. By the time of the next British Gay Crime Report in 2013, Stonewall’s unimpeachable authority to dictate to the cops was underlined by the fact this time the Report’s Foreword was penned by Alex Marshall, the Chief Executive of the College of Policing. That’s right: the place where cops are trained in England and Wales. This time it was the cops who were having their collars felt. If there was any doubt about that, Marshall was happy to point out in his first sentence that he was Stonewall Senior Champion for 2013. 

As for the stats in the Report, the waving of rainbow coloured shrouds continued apace. Those claiming to have experienced a hate crime or incident in the last three years was down from one in five to one in six. In the last year it had also gone down from 12.5 per cent to nine per cent, or almost one in ten from one in eight. Ben Summerskill opined, however, “Little has changed in the last five years.” Well … things got better, actually. 

You might think an organisation that wants to track its success on policing and crime would keep its research available for reference, but both the 2008 and 2013 Crime Reports are no longer available on the Stonewall website. They’re only available here at the British Library. This may be, partly, because Stonewall has systematically removed anything on its own website that refers to those unfashionable relics, lesbians and gays. It may also be because Stonewall is too cavalier with the facts.

When in 2017 it published its first new-style trans-obsessed “LGBT in Britain Hate Crime Report”, there was a surprise. Whilst the Report said that one in five LGBT people had experienced a hate crime or incident in the last three years, this was only a slightly worse figure than the one in six of 2013’s gay figures. Wouldn’t we have expected a much higher figure to reflect the oppression trans people experience on a daily basis, now that they were included in the survey?

It was all going so well for gay people

That can’t be the explanation because the Report also confirmed a startling 78 per cent increase in the number of LGB people experiencing a hate crime or incident, from nine per cent in 2013 to sixteen per cent in 2017

The truth is the figures in all of Stonewall’s Crime Reports need to be taken with a barrowload of salt. The most obvious explanation for any rise in reported hate crime in a decade when gay people have been encouraged to report it, is greater confidence in reporting. The only reference to reporting in the 2017 Report is to “under-reporting”. Quelle surprise.

By 2017, Stonewall was well into its radical trans-formation with same-sex attraction rebranded as anti-trans. By now, it also had an extensive infrastructure across the entire criminal justice system. It had allies and Pride groups in almost every force, it was advising the College of Policing on its courses, and it was a partner in various joint bodies to “improve” liaison and “raise” standards. It also just loved to signal to the cops that it had the direct ear of MPs and Parliament. Invites flowed to senior cops to come to events where they could meet a Minister or a bevvy of gay MPs.

Before a fall …hubris. It was all going so well for gay people. At last they had the cops where they wanted them. What they had not taken into account was the possibility that a group even more calculating and arrogant than the pompous executives of Stonewall might now do to Stonewall what Stonewall had done to the cops. From 2015 onwards, the trans lobby swept through Stonewall’s HQ. Soon the charity’s vast and complex matrix of connections and power began to pump out not pro-gay sentiment but its toxic, biology-denying opposite. Gay people had hoped Stonewall would silence homophobes in the police. They found, to their horror, that the people being silenced weren’t the homophobic cops, but gays — and it was the cops doing the silencing.

Tragedy is supposed to be instructive and in this case it should remind society as a whole to protect its most important institutions from the type of opportunistic nonsense championed by Stonewall. But gay people too should learn an equally difficult lesson. We now need to learn how to wield what power we do have in ways that aren’t designed solely to benefit ourselves at the expense of everyone else. We’ve experienced what it’s like to have our own institutions taken over by a wide-eyed minority that is incapable of compromise or empathy for others. It’s time to ditch the hubris.

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