Protesters outside the first LGB Alliance conference. (In Pictures via Getty/ Mark Kerrison)
LGB Alliance co-founder Bev Jackson has said the “consequence” of the work of Stonewall and Mermaids will be to “get rid of gay people”.
Two LGB Alliance co-founders – Jackson and Kate Harris – gave evidence on the fourth day of the tribunal challenging their group’s charity status on Wednesday (14 September).
The appeal against the Charity Commission’s decision to register LGB Alliance as a charity in April 2021 is being spearheaded by trans children’s charity Mermaids, and is supported by LGBT+ Consortium, Gendered Intelligence, LGBT Foundation, TransActual and Good Law Project.
Over the last two days, Mermaids’ witnesses Paul Roberts, John Nicolson and Belinda Bell were cross-examined by LGB Alliance’s lawyers, and on Wednesday, Jackson and Harris were questioned by Mermaids’ counsel Michael Gibbon KC.
During her evidence session, Jackson insisted that LGB Alliance’s work – which has included opposing Gender Recognition Act (GRA) reform, trans-inclusive education, and a ban on conversion therapy for trans people – actually had nothing to do with trans people.
“It’s not about people,” she said. “When we discuss gender identity, many people mistakenly think we’re talking about people who identify as transgender. It’s about a belief system… it’s not about people who are transgender.”
Jackson said she finds it “profoundly offensive to be called transphobic or anti-trans”, and said that she “supports trans rights”, before describing Mermaids’ inclusive stance as a “quasi-religious ideology” that is “imposed on society”.
She reiterated claims made earlier in the tribunal by LGB Alliance’s junior counsel Akua Reindorf that affirmative trans healthcare could result in gay people being “transed”, by insisting that the work of LGBTQ+ charities like Stonewall and Mermaids would “get rid of gay people”.
She told the court: “I’m not suggesting that Mermaids or Stonewall are intentionally trying to get rid of gay people, but I do believe it is an unintended consequence of promoting universal gender identity.”
In its appeal against LGB Alliance’s charity status, Mermaids’ claims that the group does not meet two key criteria for charitable status under the Charities Act 2011 – that an organisation’s objectives “give rise to tangible, legally recognised benefits that outweigh any associated harms”, and that they “benefit the public or a sufficient section of the public”.
Much of the argument put forward by the LGBTQ+ groups, alleges that the charitable objects LGB Alliance claims to have – working for the human rights of LGB people – is at odds with the reality of its actions.
But during the tribunal, LGB Alliance has worked to paint trans rights and inclusion as dangerous, and therefore prove that its work does, in fact, protect LGB people.
During cross-examination, Jackson was asked about a newspaper advert created by LGB Alliance Scotland (which is “aligned with” but not a part of LGB Alliance), in which is claimed that reforms to the GRA would give “predators the green light”.
Jackson insisted that the advert, which describes proposals to reform the GRA in Scotland as a “dangerously lax law that will be exploited by predatory men”, did not “denigrate” trans people and was “entirely legitimate”.
LGB Alliance co-founder suggests healthcare for trans youth could be ‘the biggest scandal since thalidomide’
In Harris’ evidence session on Wednesday afternoon, the LGB Alliance co-founder also claimed that trans inclusion will cause gay children to become trans.
Addressing inclusive education, she said: “Children being told they have a gender identity is the first step on a pathway to thinking that they have been born in the wrong body and everything that comes with that.”
Also denying that LGB Alliance works to quash trans rights, rather than advance the rights of LGB people, Harris said the group was about “love” and that its opposition to trans-inclusive education aimed to “support children who may grow up to be lesbian, gay or bisexual”.
Harris also addressed gender-affirming healthcare for trans youth, and even claimed the recent announcement of the closure of Tavistock’s Gender Identity Service (GIDS) as proof that “our work is paying off”.
In reality, GIDS was failing to provide adequate care for trans youth as the only gender clinic for under-18s in England. It is set to be replaced by two “early adopter services” run by specialist children’s hospitals, with a view to open more regional centres across the country to expand the reach of healthcare for trans youth across the country.
Yet Harris said that the service’s closure was a win for LGB Alliance, adding: “All we asked for was an examination [of GIDS]… Is this the biggest scandal since thalidomide that we’re about to see? We don’t know yet.“
Harris’ cross-examination will continue on Thursday (15 September). The tribunal is being heard at London’s General Regulatory Chamber until 16 September.