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Anti-trans ‘gender critical’ views not a protected characteristic under the equalities act, judge rules

Vic Parsons December 19, 2019
Maya Forstater, a tax expert previously employed by the Center for Global Development

Maya Forstater, a tax expert previously contracted by the Center for Global Development. (Twitter)

A researcher who said she lost her job for tweeting “gender-critical” views has lost her test case because her opinions are “absolutist”.

Maya Forstater said the landmark case could establish that “gender-critical views” are a protected belief under the 2010 Equality Act.

The judgment found that “gender-critical” views are not protected under the Equality Act 2010, noting that they are “not worthy of respect in a democratic society” and that they conflict with the fundamental human rights of others.

Forstater is not entitled to ignore the legal rights of a person who has transitioned gender, the judgment said, noting the “enormous pain that can be caused by misgendering a person”.

Judge James Tayler, an employment judge, said: “The Claimant’s position is that even if a trans woman has a Gender Recognition Certificate, she cannot honestly describe herself as a woman. That belief is not worthy of respect in a democratic society.”

Tayler added: “The Claimant largely ignores intersex conditions and the fact that biological opinion is increasingly moving away from a absolutist approach.

“Many of concerns that the Claimant has, such as ensuring protection of vulnerable women, do not, in fact, rest on holding a belief that biological sex is immutable.”

Maya Forstater said: “This judgment removes women’s rights and the right to freedom of belief and speech.”

Forstater, 45, is the daughter of Mark Forstater, the “seventh Python” who famously sued the other members of Monty Python for his share of Spamalot royalties – a seven-year legal battle that he eventually won.

Monty Python’s Terry Gilliam came under fire last year for saying he identifies as a “black transgender lesbian” in response to BBC comments about increasing diversity and it no longer being acceptable for comedy shows to solely constitute of white, male Oxbridge graduates.

Maya Forstater tweets ‘offensive and exclusionary’.

Maya Forstater was a researcher on business and international development at the think-tank Center for Global Development in London until her contract was not renewed earlier this year, following a dispute over tweets she sent opposing government proposals to reform the Gender Recognition Act that were labelled “offensive and exclusionary”.

She asserted that having “gender-critical” views – a phrase often used to defend trans-exclusionary feminism – should be protected under equalities legislation.

But Tayler ruled that Forstater’s views did “not have the protected characteristic of philosophical belief” and are “incompatible with human dignity and fundamental rights of others”.

Protected characteristics, including that of holding philosophical beliefs, do “not prevent people from having to take care not to harass others”, the judgment said, adding that if a trans person has a Gender Recognition Certificate they are legally the gender they say they are and that is that is “not something that the Claimant is entitled to ignore”.

Forstater said on her CrowdJustice page, where she raised over £80,000 for her legal fees, that she felt “shock and disbelief” at losing her case, which was held at a Central London employment tribunal.

“Women face discrimination on the basis of our sex,” Forstater said. “The rights of women to organise, to play a role in public life and to be protected against discrimination have been hard-won in recent generations.”

Amanda Glassman, CEO of CGD, said in a statement: “CGD and CGDE pride themselves as workplaces that support and advance diversity, equity, and inclusion in both policy and practice. We have always disputed the claimant’s allegations, and are grateful Judge Tayler has ruled in our favour regarding this particular matter.”

Mumsnet users react.

Forstater added that she will consider appealing the judgment, and thanked her supporters: “I am grateful for the outpouring of support I have received from around the world, via social media, on Mumsnet, through feminist networks and in person.”

The case has been discussed in detail on Mumsnet, where many users hold views on gender and trans people similar to those held by Forstater – views that have been deemed “incompatible with human dignity”.

Mumsnet users said the judgment was “chilling”, “insane”, “laughable”, “batshit” and “total lunacy”.

“This is an absolute travesty. I’ve skimmed the judgment – it’s absolute bollocks,” said a user called FreckledLeopard.

Another said: “The judgement doesn’t seem logical and has incorrectly applied the law in at least one instance.”

Many users questioned whether Forstater would be able to appeal, and offered to “dig” for her if she did.

“So what do we know about the people behind the ruling and who they get money from and associate with? Yeah, I went there,” one user wrote.

Mumsnet has a moderation policy on its users discussing trans rights.

When asked by PinkNews whether this would be updated in light of the judgment, Justine Roberts, Mumsnet CEO, said: “We don’t think we need to update our forum guidelines because they largely already echo the Judge’s comments – we do not allow posts that create an ‘intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment’ and as a rule we delete misuse of pronouns.

“Our team of moderators look at all reported comments in context and are doing their utmost to allow those who hold a variety of views to have a civil debate.”

More: gender critical views, maya forstater, Monty Python

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