An investigation by the Tax Payers’ Alliance has revealed that over the past three years Stonewall received at least £3,105,877 from a total of 3,127 public sector organisations. A whopping £2,573,779 was generated from the Stonewall Diversity Champions scheme – conferences, events and training programmes accounted for an additional £532,099. The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office gave the most of any government department to Stonewall at £19,012 for memberships and training and when added to grants and payments for projects, it gave Stonewall £376,087 over a three-year period to March 2021.
Kate Harris, co-founder of LGB Alliance, said:
“We welcome this new research from Tax Payers’ Alliance. LGB Alliance believes public bodies need good, accurate, expert advice on LGB and all other equalities issues. We also believe in openness and transparency.”
“Taxpayers deserve to know how much public money is being given, to whom and for what. Ministers have previously raised serious concerns about the potential conflict when bodies act as both advisers and lobbyists.”
“We therefore call on the Government Equalities Office to conduct an urgent audit of all government spending in this area to ensure it is of high quality, good value and consistent with current equalities legislation.”
One of the sectors with the greatest number of Diversity Champions members was higher education; 86 universities have paid Stonewall thousands of pounds over some or all of the three-year period. This is roughly two thirds of the total number of UK universities.
Concerns that freedom of speech is under threat in Stonewall affiliated organisations have been growing. Following outrage about the no-platforming of gender critical academics at the University of Essex, an investigation was undertaken and in May, the findings were published. The review recommended: “If the University considers it appropriate to continue its relationship with Stonewall, it should devise a strategy for countering the drawbacks and potential illegalities.” The report noted the University of Essex had adopted policies which reflected “the law as Stonewall would prefer it to be, rather than the law as it is”.
NHS and related bodies gave Stonewall £466,065 over 2018-21. In total, 58 health service organisations paid for membership of the Diversity Champions scheme. Last week there was an outcry when a Telegraph investigation revealed that, thanks to the implementation of transgender inclusive policies, many hospitals in England can no longer guarantee single-sex wards. This is in-line with Stonewall’s approach, whereby an individual’s professed gender identity trumps their biological sex. The Telegraph found some NHS trusts tell their staff to call the police and report a hate crime if a patient does not accept another person’s gender identity.
Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust policy states “Just as the Trust will not adapt practice in light of Racist concerns expressed as discomfort, so the Trust will not adapt practice in light of Transphobic concerns expressed as discomfort.”
The Nottinghamshire Trust has paid a total of £11,148 to Stonewall, including for a Leadership Programme, Open Models Programme and Network Group Masterclass.
In 2015 Stonewall recommended to the Women and Equalities Select Committee (WESC) that the Equality Act (2010) be amended “to include ‘gender identity’ rather than ‘gender reassignment’ as a protected characteristic and to remove exemptions, such as access to single-sex spaces.” The current CEO Nancy Kelley denies that Stonewall are currently campaigning for these changes.
The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) gave the most of any government department to the Diversity Champions scheme, training programmes and conferences, at £19,012. When added to grants and payments for projects, the department gave Stonewall a total of £376,087 over the three year period. The diversity pages of the FCDO website boast: “As Stonewall Diversity Champions, we’re always proud to support the LGBTQ+ community… We also advertise all our roles on the Proud Employers jobsite, specifically for LGBTQ+ candidates.”
On their website the FCDO state: “From 23.2% female-identifying colleagues in 2016, we’re now at 27.9% – aiming for 30% in 2020”. There is no sex disaggregated data, suggesting that in accordance with Stonewall’s approach gender identity is recorded instead of sex. There is no way to monitor how many of the 27.9 per cent are male with professed female gender identities, nor vice versa.
Last Saturday, the former Trans Lead for the FCDO’s LGBTQ+ staff network, Felix Fern, gave a keynote speech at a transgender rights protest. The protest was promoted by Stonewall on social media. Fern was criticised for appearing to be dressed as an adult baby and wearing a badge which read ‘Slut’. The demands of the protest included:
“That transgender, non-binary and gender diverse minors are explicitly confirmed to have the right to Gillick competency, to access gender therapy and medical treatment without the requirement of parental consent.”
“That the Minister for Women and Equalities, Elizabeth Truss, be removed from her post… That the newly appointed Minister for Women and Equalities supports integral charities such as Stonewall, whose Diversity Champions Programme does vital work.”
Felix Fern, former Trans Lead for the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office’s LGBTQ+ staff network, giving a keynote speech at a transgender rights protest in London last week. (Photos @IncMonocle Twitter.)
This year a total of 42 organisations have announced that they have not renewed membership of the Stonewall Diversity Champions scheme. At its height there were around 850 organisations, though numbers are now difficult to determine as at around the same time as the charity began to come under scrutiny the list was removed from public display.
The TaxPayers’ Alliance called for an end to “taxpayer-funded lobbying, so public money is not used to distort political decision-making by advancing policy positions taxpayers may seriously disagree with”.
James Roberts, its political director, said: “Public sector bodies often say they have no more fat to trim but with the spending review on the horizon, it’s clear that savings can be made by ending payments like these.”
Its report, Stonewall Subsidy, due to be published today, said that Stonewall had “received significant scrutiny in recent months, particularly of its Diversity Champions scheme”, adding: “Organisations pay a subscription to Stonewall in return for guidance on issues such as gender-neutral spaces, pronouns and transgender inclusion. It has been argued that the privileged position offered by this has allowed Stonewall to lobby and campaign at the taxpayers’ expense.”
Stonewall said: “Every employer needs to ensure that their staff, including LGBTQ+ staff, are free from discrimination and prejudice at work, and our programme is one way for organisations to be supported to meet this.”