Gay groups clash over ‘homophobic policies’ The Times 26.10.19

The original article is here.

The equalities charity Stonewall has been branded homophobic by a former fundraiser who has defected and formed a new group amid a row over transgender policy.

Kate Harris is among a band of prominent lesbian, bisexual and gay activists who have deserted the gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans rights charity. They feel that Stonewall ceased to represent LGB people when it incorporated trans issues and have concerns about the advice Stonewall gives to schools.

Ms Harris is a former vice-president at American Express and helped to raise ten of thousands of pounds in corporate donations for Stonewall during the 2000s. She now feels that the charity discriminates against those attracted to the same sex by encouraging “gender variant” children to transition.

Stonewall rejects the criticism, saying that it is committed to fighting for equality and inclusion.

“There is nothing that homosexuals have in common with transgender people,” Ms Harris said. “We are LGB because of a sexual attraction, we want the world to change to be accommodating of us. Trans people want to change to fit into what we believe is an old-fashioned set of values.”

Stonewall was founded in 1989 by activists and others lobbying against section 28 of the Local Government Act, which banned the “promotion” of homosexuality by local authorities.

The charity now acts as a gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender equalities group and receives £600,000 in government grants to advise public bodies including the NHS and police. It advises schools to outline differentiations between sex and gender, and sexual orientation and gender identity, in lessons.

Describing the advice as “pretty homophobic”, Ms Harris added: “We don’t want children in primary school to be told there is such a thing as gender identity — it doesn’t exist, it is a cult belief. A lot of us lesbians, who were tomboys as children, would be encouraged to transition now.”

At a meeting of 70 supporters this week Ms Harris and the author Bev Jackson announced the LGB Alliance as an alternative to Stonewall. Plans for the group were revealed in a letter to The Sunday Times last month. The group’s values include the promotion of respectful free speech and acknowledging that sex differs from gender.

Stonewall said: “Trans people are facing unprecedented abuse in all areas of their lives. Stonewall is working to change this by supporting teachers to tackle homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying, as well as helping them create schools where all lesbian, gay, bi and trans people feel accepted and included. Stonewall is here to fight for the equality of lesbian, gay, bi and trans people from all walks of life.”