by Maya Forstater
Monday, 4
July 2022
Reaction
14:15

The secrecy of Stonewall is finally breaking down

Oxford University was told to share the organisation's LGBT diversity scores
by Maya Forstater
Credit: Getty

If your employer marks a ‘transgender day of remembrance’, tweets political statements about the Gender Recognition Act, or drops the word ‘mother’ from its maternity leave policies, chances are it is following secretive directions from the lobby group Stonewall.

In the name of inclusion, employers that join the Workplace Equality Index scheme are encouraged to create an office mono-culture where everyone pledges allegiance to the pride flag and to the idea that “trans women are women, trans men are men and non binary people are valid”. 

Employers must submit hundreds of pages of evidence each year to demonstrate compliance, and receive feedback from Stonewall telling them how to ‘do better’. Up until now, many employers have tried to keep the details of this secret. 

Sex Matters, the campaign for clarity on sex in law and policy, has been running a campaign to unearth the information using freedom of information requests. But often we have met a brick wall of public bodies claiming that they must respect Stonewall’s commercial interest in secrecy. 

Last week the Information Commissioner sent a warning shot against this practice. It told the University of Oxford to disclose the scores and feedback it received from Stonewall, setting out its reasons in a hard-hitting decision which also took aim at other regulators and government bodies that are members of the scheme. The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) said:

Whilst Stonewall is a charity, it is a charity with an agenda to promote. Whilst many may well agree with that agenda, it is not one that is universally accepted. Moreover, even those organisations which do enjoy broad support should not expect their actions to go free from scrutiny.
- ICO

The Information Commissioner noted that there is a “potential for a scheme to be misused as a campaigning tool” and that “organs of the state must take care to ensure that they are not seen as promoting political campaigns”.

We have seen the scheme used for promoting political campaigns. The Scottish Government boasted in its report to Stonewall that it had tweeted in support of gender self-ID, while Ofcom said that it had sent a written warning to a local radio station for offence over a radio presenter who said that he would be uncomfortable with his six-year-old daughter changing in an environment where the changing rooms were not segregated based on sex.

Although the ICO’s decision is not binding on other organisations, it suggests that similar decisions would be made in future. Sex Matters’ analysis has found more than 70 public authorities have previously refused to provide information, giving reasons of contractual confidentiality, or concern for Stonewall’s commercial interests. These include the BBC and Channel 4, several Whitehall departments, the Cabinet Office, Government legal departments, universities and regulators. We will now be asking all these public authorities and universities to provide information they have previously withheld.

Join the discussion


To join the discussion, get the free daily email and read more articles like this, sign up.

It's simple, quick and free.

Sign me up
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
25 Comments
Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
R Wright
R Wright
2 months ago

“Racketeering is a type of criminal activity in which money is extorted from a victim by threat or force. One of the most common forms is the protection racket, in which a criminal entity causes a problem and sells protection against that problem. Racketeering is usually the purview of organized crime rather than an individual”

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
2 months ago
Reply to  R Wright

And congratulations to ‘Sex Matters’ for flushing these organisations secret support for Stonewall out in the open for public scrutiny.
I’ll be adding my support by subscription to your organisation.

FacRecte NilTime
FacRecte NilTime
2 months ago

“trans women are women, trans men are men and non binary people are valid”. The last line of that mantra is/was “No debate.”

And that’s why it’s so important to shine a light through FOI and other measures to hold to account institutions in thrall to Stonewall.

Any organisation genuinely confident about its policies and the values that underpin them would welcome scrutiny, not try to act by stealth.

Well done Sex Matters. Well done the Information Commissioners. Your move Oxford.

Laura Creighton
Laura Creighton
2 months ago

Does the principle ‘if it has commercial interests then it is not a charity’ have a chance of flying under British law?

Last edited 2 months ago by Laura Creighton
Julian Pellatt
Julian Pellatt
2 months ago

“… Ofcom said that it had sent a written warning to a local radio station for offence over a radio presenter who said that he would be uncomfortable with his six-year-old daughter changing in an environment where the changing rooms were not segregated based on sex.”
What has our world come to that government agencies should take it upon themselves to dish out such malignant warnings? Well done to that radio presenter for speaking out. It is perhaps a forlorn hope that the radio station management responded by telling Ofcom to get stuffed!

Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
2 months ago
Reply to  Julian Pellatt

I used to think that the purpose of Ofcom was to prevent the restriction of free speech, but find that it’s actually doing precisely that. I was unhappy with its decision to shut down RT, and still don’t understand how it had the power.

Edward McPhee
Edward McPhee
2 months ago

The method of self promotion used by Stonewall is not unique, but it is questionable. It is demonstrably sad that so many public bodies, and indeed government departments, fell under their spell. It would appear that the fear of being “cancelled” by the blob means that this racket is allowed to succeed.

Ormond Otvos
Ormond Otvos
2 months ago
Reply to  Edward McPhee

The blob is changing its mind, and Unherds are the reason.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
2 months ago

Good work. Keep it up!

N Forster
N Forster
2 months ago

For those who would like to donate to Sex Matters:
https://sex-matters.org/

Martin Smith
Martin Smith
2 months ago

Me and old drinking friend of mine invented an official body know as OffF**k. It’s job was to regulate the regulators.

Perry de Havilland
Perry de Havilland
2 months ago
Reply to  Martin Smith

An idea whose time has well and truly come

Arkadian X
Arkadian X
2 months ago

When are we going to know?

Caroline Watson
Caroline Watson
2 months ago

Stonewall’s accounts should be thoroughly investigated. That is usually the way to discredit such organisations.

Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
2 months ago

I’d be particularly interested in how much money came ultimately from taxes, which most people seem to think too high.

Justin Clark
Justin Clark
2 months ago

Good luck Alison – https://allisonbailey.co.uk/

Carol Moore
Carol Moore
2 months ago

Well done to Sex Matters for taking action to bring this into light for the public. Irrespective of gender issues, the fact that a lobby group can capture publicly funded institutions without any agreement with those paying for these institutions is extremely concerning.

Peter Beard
Peter Beard
2 months ago

Well done Maya, keep going.

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
2 months ago

Thanks you Sex Matters. You’re doing the right thing.

Rod Hine
Rod Hine
2 months ago

I have recently cancelled my subscription to English Heritage precisely because I will not knowing contribute a penny to Stonewall, directly or indirectly. I have yet to receive a reply from my accompanying message – I suspect English Heritage will be too cowardly to reply…
There are several more subscriptions I shall be scrutinising very carefully.

Ruth Conlock
Ruth Conlock
2 months ago
Reply to  Rod Hine

I left the National Trust for the same reason. I highlighted my concerns to them, as a longstanding member of NT, and said I would cancel my membership if they didn’t leave Stonewall’s discredited Diversity Scheme. They wrote back that they had no intention of reviewing their links with Stonewall so I cancelled my membership.

Anna Bramwell
Anna Bramwell
2 months ago

Is it a charity or a business? In the old days, charities were meant to be non- political. Now?

Adam Bacon
Adam Bacon
2 months ago

@R Wright In this case the racketeers, I guess, believe themselves to be on the side of virtue and righteousness (wrongly I believe), but the dynamics are the same- do as we dictate or you will be vilified.

Kerry Godwin
Kerry Godwin
2 months ago

I was in Xabia, Spain last week. On a school recreation area’s wall there was some sanctioned student “graffiti” with rainbow hearts specifically praising the Stonewall riots. How lovely.

William Adams
William Adams
2 months ago

So Oxford is stonewalling. No surprise there.