Public bodies pay thousands to join Stonewall’s LGBT ‘diversity champion’ scheme The Times 02.11.20

The original article is here.

Hundreds of employers including government agencies and police forces are paying thousands of pounds to become “diversity champions” for Stonewall.

The charity, whose transgender policy was recently questioned by one of its founders, runs a programme for organisations to ensure acceptance in the workplace for LGBT staff.

Thirty police forces, 57 local authorities and 50 NHS organisations are among those paying to belong to the programme, along with John Lewis, Marks & Spencer, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, the Post Office and dozens of universities.

The Cabinet Office, Foreign Office, Department for Education and Crown Prosecution Service are also signed up.

The amount that each organisation pays depends on its size but starts at £2,500 plus VAT and is estimated to cost the taxpayer at least £600,000, The Sunday Telegraph claimed.

A recent Freedom of Information request to the CPS shows that it is paying the charity £6,000 a year for two subscriptions, one for its staff in England and one for staff in Wales. A separate FOI request to the Scottish government shows that it paid £9,144 to the charity in 2019, including £7,200 for membership, the newspaper reported.

Organisations learn about inclusion from the programme and are encouraged to allow trans people to choose which lavatories and changing rooms to use.

Simon Fanshawe, one of the charity’s founders, left the organisation last year, claiming its transgender policy risked undermining “women’s sex-based rights and protections”, and a teenage girl, supported by the Safe Schools Alliance UK, has applied for a judicial review of the CPS’s membership of the scheme.

A letter sent last year to The Sunday Times, co-signed by Mr Fanshawe, said: “Last October a group of LGB rights supporters asked Stonewall to ‘commit to fostering an atmosphere of respectful debate rather than demonising as transphobic those who wish to discuss, or dissent from, Stonewall’s transgender policies’. Since then, Stonewall has refused repeated requests to enter into any such dialogue.

“The government continues to treat Stonewall as if it represented the views of progressive thinking in general, and specifically LGB opinion. It does not.

“We believe it has made mistakes in its approach that undermine women’s sex-based rights and protections. The most worrying aspect of this is that all primary-school children are now challenged to review their ‘gender identity’ and decide that they may be the opposite sex if they do not embrace outdated gender stereotypes.”

Many organisations mention that they are Stonewall diversity champions but not that they have paid a subscription fee for the title.

Nancy Kelley, chief executive at Stonewall, said: “All employers, including public authorities, have a legal duty to reduce inequalities and ensure lesbian, gay, bi and trans people are free from discrimination at work.”

A CPS spokesman said: “Our status as a Stonewall champion plays no part in our decision making.”

The Stonewall website says: “The diversity champions programme is the leading employers’ programme for ensuring all LGBT staff are accepted without exception in the workplace.

“We work with over 850 organisations, all of whom share our core belief in the power of a workplace that is truly equal. Through them we’ve helped create inclusive and accepting environments for almost a quarter of the UK workforce.”

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