Last year J K Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter series, was at the centre of a storm over her views on transgender issues. She had pointed out that “people who menstruate” can be simply called “women” and was accused of transphobia.
A woman who tweeted "male people are not women" has won an appeal against her employers’ decision to fire her for "transphobia".
A panel of judges at the Employment Appeal Tribunal in London ruled Maya Forstater had not done anything wrong and people who share her “gender critical” beliefs cannot be sacked for holding such a view of the world.
Very pleased to be able to say that my client Maya Forstater has been successful in her appeal, and has established that gender critical beliefs are protected under the Equality Act 2010. The full judgment is here: https://t.co/sYqzbwY9Yd
— Peter Daly (@peter_daly) June 10, 2021
Ms Forstater, a tax expert, was sacked by the Centre for Global Development (CGD) think-tank, in March 2019 after posting tweets in which she voiced her opposition to reforms of the Gender Recognition Act.
She had tweeted in 2018 that no amount of surgery can allow a man to become a woman, whatever gender they use to define themselves.
Worth noting in the Forstater case that it stresses belief in gender identity as a philosophical position is protected as is the gender critical position.
And it stresses that believing something is not a licence to harass or abuse.
It is a really good balanced judgment.
— Scott Wortley (@Scott_Wortley) June 10, 2021
Ms Forstater tweeted: "I don’t think being a woman/female is a matter of identity or womanly feelings. What I am so surprised at is that smart people who I admire … are tying themselves in knots to avoid saying the truth that men cannot change into women."
Several of her colleagues complained about her "transphobic" comments and her contract with CGD was not renewed because of her opinions.
Statement from the EHRC on the ruling in Forstater “we believe that it is to the benefit of the whole of society to ensure that people are protected from discrimination because of their religious or philosophical beliefs, even if those beliefs might be controversial…” https://t.co/8nwPYNvPKm
— Monica Kurnatowska (@MonicaKurnatow) June 10, 2021
Ms Forstater, whose comments had been retweeted by J K Rowling, took her case to an employment tribunal, claiming she had been discriminated against because of her beliefs.
In December 2019 employment judge James Tayler threw her case out, saying her “absolutist” view of sex was “not worthy of respect in a democractic society.”
He claimed said had caused “enormous pain” by “misgendering.”
Maya Forstater has won. I just had a press release from the CGD telling me how disappointed they are…
— Julie Bindel (@bindelj) June 10, 2021
But the appeal tribunal, chaired by Mr Justice Choudhury, said Ms Forstater’s “belief that sex is immutable and binary is..consistent with the law.”
They added: “Where a belief or a major tenet of it appears to be in accordance with the law of the land, then it is all the more jarring that it should be declared as one not worthy of respect in a democratic society.”
As a result of @MForstater's case, gender critical beliefs are now protected in law. Women, and men, cannot be discriminated against, nor harrassed or victimised, because of holding those beliefs. Take note employers and universities.
— Ann Sinnott (@AnnMSinnott) June 10, 2021
The decision comes 24 hours after a student at Abertay University in Scotland, Lisa Keogh, was cleared of wrongdoing for saying women have vaginas.
In recent years there has been increasing tension and hostility between feminists who believe women are born women and transgender campaigners who believe men can become women.
In light of today's landmark judgement in favour of Maya Forstater, will @Twitter now accept that gender critical views are worthy of respect? Will they stop illegally discriminating against people who sincerely hold those views?
— James Rowe (@JamesUnfettered) June 10, 2021