Written evidence from LGB Alliance (HRO0016)
This submission is made on behalf of LGB Alliance. We welcome the opportunity to respond to the Committee’s inquiry into whether a Human Rights Ombudsperson should be appointed and hope this submission is of interest.
LGB Alliance is a registered charity that represents the interests of a rapidly growing number of lesbian, gay and bisexual people. We represent thousands of LGB people who have grave concerns about the loss of our rights, specifically in relation to moves to replace, in law and elsewhere, the category of “sex” with “gender identity”, “gender expression” or “sex characteristics”.
Our main areas of interest are the human rights of LGB people, fact-based relationships and sex education for children and young people, and the creation of a positive environment for all "gender non-conforming" people in the UK. We would like to see a world where any boy or girl, man or woman, can dress and be whoever they would like to be as long as they respect the rights of others. In line with these views, we challenge the central tenet of what we call “gender identity theory” – the notion that everyone has a “gender identity”, which may differ from, and must take precedence over, biological sex. LGB Alliance believes that gender identity theory reinforces outdated and regressive stereotypes.
We are long-time gay and lesbian activists who fought for the rights of people whose sexual orientation is towards others of the same sex. These hard-won rights are now under serious threat, and we would strongly encourage the Committee to appoint a Human Rights Ombudsperson to help us fight back for the protections we are losing.
As a small charity run by volunteers, we do not have access to legal expertise so this will be a layperson’s response. We will simply paint a picture of why we recommend the appointment of a Human Rights Ombudsperson. We will focus on the urgent priorities of those most damaged by the recent outbreak of lawlessness in interpreting the law on sex and gender, and the seeming inability or unwillingness of legislative bodies to control this.
Answers to Questions
Should there be a Human Rights Ombudsperson? If so, what powers and resources would the ombudsperson need to address the challenges people face in enforcing their rights out of court?
The rights that LGB Alliance feels are most under attack and where we would like a Human Rights Ombudsperson to focus are:
1 Freedom of expression
Article 10 of the Human Rights Act protects the right to express opinions freely – including through articles, broadcasting, the internet, and social media. This right simply does not apply to LGB Alliance. Since LGB Alliance formed in 2019, barriers have been put up to try and silence our views at every turn. Politicians have used Parliamentary privilege to defame our organisation. Critics in the press and social media have repeatedly described LGB Alliance, falsely, as far right, fascist, neo-Nazi, homophobic, anti-trans, racist and antisemitic.
Paid advertisements have been refused by mainstream publications including The House – the magazine of the Houses of Parliament.
The Head of Ofcom, Dame Melanie Dawes, was encouraged by John Nicolson MP, at a hearing of the DCMS Select Committee on 15 December 2020, to confirm that LGB Alliance should not be allowed to express its views on the BBC. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mSdLCTZoSoA
At 4 min 20 sec in the recording the discussion begins – and Dame Melanie Dawes confirms that it would be “extremely inappropriate” to have LGB Alliance in a discussion on the BBC on “trans issues”. Dame Melanie confirms that Ofcom is engaged with Stonewall to “make sure we give the right information to our broadcasters”, “without bringing inappropriate voices to the table on questions like this”. This has further entrenched a situation in which Stonewall is the default organisation for the BBC whenever they report on LGB issues, despite Government guidance that Stonewall is no longer a reliable partner for Government Departments, and that they should leave Stonewall’s Diversity Champions scheme. https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/liz-truss-urges-official-withdrawal-from-stonewall-diversity-scheme-9df7pvsrn
LGB Alliance has also been refused membership of The National Council for Voluntary Organisations – NCVO. This has prevented the charity from receiving useful information on all the issues of interest to a group who are new to the charity world and seek to learn from others with greater experience.
LGB Alliance applied to the London Community Foundation for a £9,400 grant to make a short film called “Queens” to celebrate Her Majesty’s Jubilee. The grant was awarded and announced on 11 April at 9am. At 6 pm the same day the grant was suspended after a Twitter outcry from critics. https://thecritic.co.uk/why-is-the-lgb-alliance-film-having-its-funding-cut/
These are just a few examples of the way our charity has been subjected to a campaign of abuse and defamation since the day we formed in October 2019 – which has severely restricted our right to freedom of expression.
The first time LGB Alliance was allowed to exert full freedom of expression was on Sunday 19 June 2022 on GB News. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M04O3Y8XGVs
Since October 2019 LGB Alliance has been unable to push back against these continuous efforts to suppress and discredit our organisation. Legal action is expensive and resource hungry – impossible for a small charity. A Human Rights Ombudsperson would provide a vital lifeline for an organisation. The attacks on LGB Alliance appear to be largely driven by fury that we challenge the new LGBTQIA+ orthodoxy, which has redefined gay and lesbian in terms of gender identity instead of sex and seeks to enforce what we believe is a regressive and homophobic world view. This new orthodoxy essentially excludes LGB people from the movement that was once created by and for them.
The Human Rights Ombudsperson should have the power and resources to offer support to any groups or individuals who are operating within the law but are having their rights restricted by better funded bodies. This is all the more important when these better funded bodies seek to enforce practices that they themselves describe as being “ahead of the law”. Being “ahead of the law” is not “progressive”. It means imposing practices that are actually unlawful. It should be the duty of the office of the Human Rights Ombudsperson to make clear that misrepresentation of the law to restrict the lawful activities of groups or individuals will not be tolerated.
2 Freedom from discrimination – children
The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) recognises that children are entitled to special care and protection. It defines children as anyone under the age of 18, unless a particular law gives them majority earlier.
LGB Alliance is concerned that the rights of the child are not being protected, and this should be a key area of responsibility for the Human Rights Ombudsperson.
Under proposals brought forward by the Scottish Government to reform the Gender Recognition Act, children aged 16 may choose to “change sex” by obtaining a Gender Recognition Certificate. Given that the brain is not fully developed until the age of 25, it is irresponsible in the extreme to suggest that a 16-year-old is able to make such a decision. A Human Rights Ombudsperson would be able to intervene with the Scottish government to open discussions on whether this legislation contravenes the UNCRC.
We see a growing medical scandal emerge, which many believe will be the worst of the last 50 years. Janice Turner of The Times gives the details of what has happened in her article of 17 June 2022:
“For me it began with a graph. In 2017, I was shown a chart of children referred to GIDS, the Tavistock and Portman Trust’s Gender Identity Development Service clinic in northwest London. Overall case numbers had risen – from just 72 in 2009-10 to 1,807 in 2016-17 – but there was something more puzzling. Female referrals, once a fraction of males, now made up 70 per cent: from 32 to 1,265. The number of teenage girls with gender dysphoria (i.e. profound discomfort with their biological sex) had risen by 5,000 per cent in 7 years.”
Fundamentally, many children with healthy bodies who have “gender dysphoria” are being put on a completely unnecessary pathway to a lifetime of medical treatment. Most of the girls being referred are same-sex attracted – we are effectively “transing away the lesbians”.
CONTEXT: THE SITUATION TODAY
We believe that a Human Rights Ombudsperson could play a key role in helping organisations and individuals to enforce their rights in a more timely and less expensive way than through the courts.
We are concerned about serious detriment currently being caused to the human rights of LGB groups and individuals by a number of our public bodies. This in turn can be traced to the misrepresentation of existing law by lobby groups that promote gender identity theory. Acting on the advice of these lobby groups – and largely in good faith – Government departments, educational establishments, and parts of the criminal justice system have been presenting the indefinable term “gender identity” as one of the protected characteristics established under the Equality Act 2010. In fact, the protected characteristics include sex (which largely protects women), sexual orientation (which protects LGB people), and gender reassignment.
“Gender identity” is not a protected characteristic. If it were, the protections afforded to sex and sexual orientation could not be enforced. After all, everyone defines their own “gender identity”. The acceptance by major institutions of this misrepresentation of the law has therefore had grave consequences. These institutions have ceased to protect the human rights of LGB people and women. The creation of an Ombudsperson would be a very helpful development, since it could enable some individuals or groups to get redress without having to raise funds and incur substantial risks by taking legal action or seeking a Judicial Review.
Public sector bodies have already had to be taken to court on the fraught issue of sex versus gender. In 2021 the campaign group Fair Play For Women (FPFW) challenged the actions of the Office for National Statistics (ONS) in a judicial review. The proposed questions and guidance for the 2021 Census had wrongly blurred the distinction between biological sex and the concept of gender.
Data collections must be reliable. Strong data sets are needed for all the protected characteristics to enable future policy and planning of services to take all nine protected characteristics into account. FPFW had urged the ONS to address this issue, but the ONS declined to amend their guidance. This left FPFW with no option but to raise a very large sum of money to request a full judicial review – which it won.
The existence of a Human Rights Ombudsperson might have helped to resolve this situation without the huge expense and risk of a judicial review, which would be beyond the capacity of many individuals and groups. See “Sex and the Office for National Statistics: A Case Study in Policy Capture”, Sullivan 2021, in The Political Quarterly, Wiley Online Library
What powers would the ombudsperson need to ensure they provide an effective remedy, as required by Article 13 of the European Convention on Human Rights, for individuals trying to enforce their rights?
The Human Rights Ombudsperson should have the power to compel public bodies and institutions to produce updated and clear guidance, that is fully compatible with the law as it stands, in a timely manner. This would provide greater clarity for institutions and public bodies and reduce the scope for unintentional breaches of the human rights of groups and individuals.
This is particularly important in the current climate, in which lobby groups and charities that support practices imposing gender identity ideology “ahead of the law” have been giving guidance to public bodies that reflects the law as they would like it to be rather than as it currently stands.
It is clearly not acceptable for changes/distortions in the implementation of laws to be introduced in this manner. Any changes must be subject to full parliamentary scrutiny to guard against one group’s interests being prioritised to the detriment of others. Examples of areas where a timely issue of guidance has not been forthcoming include the delayed EHRC guidance on single sex exemptions and the schools guidance on Relationships and Sex Education from 2019.
Finally, and possibly most importantly, if this role is created then it is essential for checks and balances to be in place to ensure it is not targeted by groups with an interest in renewing the current practice of misrepresenting the law.
An investigation into Policy/Institutional Capture and steps to guard against it should form part of the preliminary work in designing the role of the new Human Rights Ombudsperson.
How would the Human Rights Ombudsperson interact with existing mechanisms such as ombudspersons and Commissioners, including in the devolved nations?
How would the Human Rights Ombudsperson interact with other bodies tasked with upholding human rights, including the Equality and Human Rights Commission?
Are there other steps that should be taken alongside introducing a Human Rights Ombudsperson to ensure people can effectively enforce their rights out of court?
LGB Alliance is not able to contribute answers to these questions – we hope that subject matter experts will have done so.
The United Kingdom, along with many other countries, has been overtaken by a new gender identity ideology movement intent on making radical changes to society without Parliamentary, media, or public scrutiny. The details of this strategy are laid out in the 2019 report supported by the law firm Dentons and written for the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Intersex (LGBTQI) Youth & Student Organisation (IGLYO). https://www.iglyo.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/IGLYO_v3-1.pdf
This extraordinary guidance encourages activists to bypass the normal processes of liberal democracy to achieve their aims. The report has been analysed in detail by James Kirkup in an article in The Spectator – “The document that reveals the remarkable tactics of trans lobbyists” - https://www.spectator.co.uk/article/the-document-that-reveals-the-remarkable-tactics-of-trans-lobbyists
At a time when liberal democracy itself may be under threat, when an unprecedented level of authoritarianism is sweeping through all our public institutions, the need for a Human Rights Ombudsperson has never been greater.
LGB Alliance would be delighted to work with the Joint Committee in further discussions on this vital role. If you have any questions regarding our response, please contact email@example.com