Artillery Row

The Trojan Horse of Stonewall

Why did the BBC give money to a pro-trans lobby group in the first place?

News that the BBC is apparently considering withdrawing from Stonewall’s “Diversity Champions” scheme comes as a double surprise; who knew that the Corporation had signed-up in the first place? And, if it is now to ditch the scheme, it’s a rare example of the Corporation acknowledging a mis-step and back-pedalling on its woke credentials. It is also, and perhaps more significantly, a sign that Stonewall’s long run of campaigning success is coming to an end due to deep division over the “trans issue”. As Jacques Mallet du Pan put it 200 years ago, “Like Saturn, the Revolution devours its children.”

To recap: Stonewall, the leading LGBTQ+ campaigning outfit, set up “Diversity Champions” in 2001. The idea was that employers would sign up and be coached by Stonewall on how to make their workplace welcoming to LGBTQ employees. It has been hugely successful; Stonewall claims that 900 leading UK employers — including many public sector organisations — have joined the scheme. They have paid handsomely for doing so; the cost of joining depends on the size of the employer with a minimum charge of £2,500, so we can assume that the BBC’s subscription was a lot more than that. According to some estimates, Stonewall was receiving three million pounds annually from public sector members.

As soon as people begin to understand what the pro-trans lobby is about, they tend to reject it

Until earlier this year, from Stonewall’s point of view, everything was going swimmingly; the scheme was delivering a steady stream of income and no one was paying much attention. But that was about to change due to Stonewall’s stance on transgender rights. Since 2015 Stonewall has taken a hard line and argued forcefully for the right of trans people to “self-identify” (any man or woman who announces that they now wish to be acknowledged as belonging to the other sex should be taken at their word and treated accordingly).

In adopting this stance Stonewall has taken sides in the bitter argument between the fanatical pro-trans lobby and the gender-critical feminists who fear the loss of women-only spaces and the ruination of women’s sports if self-ID becomes the norm. 

In the view of its critics, Stonewall should stick to its LGB knitting and “drop the T”. As this argument developed publicly employers began to realise that membership of “Diversity Champions” could be seen as an endorsement of Stonewall’s stance — which is a step too far for many. The Equalities and Human Rights Commission, Channel 4, The Cabinet Office and OFSTED have all announced they’re ditching the scheme.

In June Equalities Minister Liz Truss urged all public sector bodies to withdraw from the scheme; she framed the issue as one of “value for money” — but there’s a strong suspicion that Stonewall’s stance on the trans issue was the real catalyst. And now it seems that the BBC is on the verge of leaving (according to VICE — at the time of writing the Corporation has made no official announcement) which, if true, can only be a good thing. For what possible justification can there be for the BBC to be giving money to Stonewall anyway?

Stonewall is a campaigning organisation; by paying it money and treating it as an uncontroversial partner organisation, the BBC compromises its objectivity. How many other lobbying groups does the BBC treat in this way? I would bet the farm that there is no socially conservative lobbying outfit that the BBC would equally indulge.

However, now that the issue is very much in the public domain and the BBC has been dragged into the argument, I predict the Corporation will have no alternative but to withdraw. Letting the daylight in on this secret world where campaign groups are co-opted into the daily running of large public organisations changes the picture completely. The pro-trans lobby knows full well that the less publicity the better.

The BBC must sever all formal connections with Stonewall forthwith if it is to present itself as neutral

This was highlighted in a handbook for campaigners which surfaced in 2019 and called Only Adults? Good practice in legal gender recognition for youth. Drawn up by the global legal firm Dentons in consultation with IGLYO (the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Queer and Intersex Youth and student Association), this authoritative guide sets out how pro-trans campaigners should go about the business of lobbying for changes to the law so that children can change sex without parental consent.

It suggests, for instance, that they should get in as early as possible in the legislative process: “In many of the NGO advocacy campaigns that we studied, there were clear benefits where NGOs managed to get ahead of the government and publish progressive legislative proposals before the government had time to develop their own.”

Even more revealingly, the document sees an advantage in tying the pro-trans agenda in with other, more popular ideas:

In Ireland, Denmark and Norway, changes to the law on legal gender recognition were put through at the same time as other more popular reforms such as marriage equality legislation. This provided a veil of protection, particularly in Ireland, where marriage equality was strongly supported, but gender identity remained a more difficult issue to win public support for.

There’s a clear analogy here with Stonewalls’ Diversity Champions scheme. Employers originally signed up to it when it focused on workplace equality for LGB employees; years later it has become a Trojan Horse operation which allows Stonewall privileged access to promote its polarising agenda. In particular Stonewall is accused of advancing the argument that self-identity counts as a “protected characteristic” under equality legislation — which it doesn’t, because self-identification is not recognised in British law.

Another section spells out, quite clearly, that trans lobbyists should avoid attracting public attention:

Another technique which has been used to great effect is the limitation of press coverage and exposure. In certain countries, like the UK, information on legal gender recognition reforms has been misinterpreted in the mainstream media, and opposition has arisen as a result … Against this background, many believe that public campaigning has been detrimental to progress, as much of the general public is not well informed about trans issues, and therefore misinterpretation can arise.

In other words, the less the general public knows about what is afoot the better. Because as soon as people begin to understand what the pro-trans lobby is about, they tend to reject it as an affront to reality. Automatically acquiescing in the auto-fiction of a man who announces himself as a woman is — in most people’s eyes — not a sensible extension of the “equality” agenda, but a kind of madness indicative of a flight from reason. The fact that we all now know that our leading news provider, an organisation supposedly dedicated to an ethos of absolute impartiality, has been in bed with such a strident lobbying group reveals something that both sides would prefer to be brushed under the carpet.

Given its track record of unconditional support for “progressive” campaigns, it is no surprise to learn that the BBC signed up to Stonewall’s lucrative coaching racket. But the cat’s out of the bag now that the Corporation’s relationship with Stonewall is public knowledge; the BBC must sever all formal connections with Stonewall forthwith if it is to present itself as a neutral arbiter in the tortured debate over transgenderism.

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