10 June 2021
By Lynda Goetz
The other week in The Daily Telegraph there was an article by Simon Heffer entitled ‘Have we finally passed peak woke?’ He, in conclusion, was hopeful we might have done. What with the revolt of members of the National Trust and the subsequent resignation of Tim Parker the chairman; the refusal of Cambridge dons to accept vice-chancellor Steven Toope’s ridiculous ‘Culture for Change’ agenda and their earlier rejection (last autumn) of the requirement to ‘respect’ alternative views for an agreement to ‘tolerate’ them; the abandonment by a number of sportspeople of the genuflection to BLM and the ridiculing of the whingeing and posturing of our Duke and Duchess across the water, it is becoming increasingly clear that the hijacking of attitudes and the imposition of thoughts and beliefs of a few on the population as a whole, may possibly be at a turning point.
Nothing signals the end of this era perhaps more than the exposure during the last weeks of the extent to which the charity Stonewall, in its most recent guise of LGBT defender and educator, had infiltrated public institutions and the backlash against this. It is almost impossible not to be aware of the tremendous amount this charity contributed to a dismantling of some of the worst aspects of homophobia which still existed in this country in the late eighties when it was founded. In the wake of the Aids crisis, Stonewall (so-named after the 1969 Stonewall riots in Greenwich village US) achieved a great deal in its campaigns for equality for homosexuals and lesbians. But what has been their purpose more recently once this was largely achieved?
In his article in this week’s Shaw Sheet, Robert Kilconner argues effectively that the charity needed to continue creating ‘jobs for the boys’. Mathew Parris, the journalist and one of Stonewall’s founders along with Ian McKellan, states baldly in an article for The Times on 22nd May that, ‘The organisation I helped found has lost its way since winning gay equality and is mired in an issue that isn’t its concern’. Not only are Stonewall mixed up in the issue of trans rights but – to an extent which almost none of the public and very few politicians were aware – they have been keeping their coffers filled and the contributions rolling in by ‘educating’ public and corporate bodies on the ‘rights’ of the trans and bi members of our population. Not only was this not a part of their founders aims, but it is actually in conflict with the opinions of many of those people. To state, as it does, that ‘trans women are women’ is, as far as many are concerned, an arguable point.
It is this which has, inter alia, led to the recent rejection of the charity, not only by its own members such as Mathew Parris, but by the Ministry of Justice and other public bodies, which have concluded they can do without the (possibly unsound) advice of Stonewall on inclusion and save themselves the several thousand pounds a year they have been paying (for how many years?) in order to get Stonewall ‘Brownie points’ for their diversity and inclusivity policies. Playing on the need of most humans to be rewarded, or basically given a gold star, Stonewall has maintained a clever award system for those organisations to which it gives its approval. There is an index of ‘diversity champions’ and organisations are given a place on that index, so that they can see how well they are doing compared with others. The Ministry of Justice was apparently fifth on that index, whereas the poor old Met, in spite of paying well over £10,000 a year to Stonewall, just never quite made the cut.
On the other hand, other police forces were well up on the scoreboard, but it was the revelation a couple of weeks ago that the Equality and Human Rights commission had decided to withdraw from Stonewall’s scheme which dealt the next major blow to the charity’s status. At the time this was revealed, some 850 organisations were signed up to the scheme, of which 250 were public bodies, meaning that membership is paid for by the taxpayer. So, 250 public bodies contributing at a rate of £2,500 a year is not making deep inroads into a Treasury budget, where at the moment the sky appears to be the limit, but it is nevertheless disquieting that these amounts have been paid annually for advice which, apart from anything else, should surely be available internally? After all, the legislation was passed by government and created by government lawyers. It seems somewhat bizarre that they are then seeking and paying for outside advice on how to implement this legislation; advice, moreover, which is, according to some recently quoted QCs, not even accurate.
As long ago as last summer, The Spectator, in an article by Tom Goodenough, was highlighting the extent to which various police forces had committed funds to what were essentially political LGBT causes. The author questioned whether at a time of cuts and limited funds, police forces should be committing so much to Stonewall membership and other LGBT training and branding. This politicisation of the police is now increasingly being questioned. In the last week, Harry Miller, the former policeman and founder of Fair Cop, has sent a letter to police chiefs warning that they will take legal proceedings against any police force still participating in Stonewall’s Diversity Champions scheme after a ‘period of consideration’.
According to Stonewall Equality Ltd (Stonewall’s full name) accounts for 2019, grants to the charity in the preceding year included £299,611 from the Department of Education, £145,075 from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, £100,000 from the Scottish Government and £46,000 from NHS Scotland, whilst the Welsh Government gave £157,609.
Stonewall did great work, but its work is done. It has now alienated many of its original core supporters, those lesbians and homosexuals on whose behalf it fought so successfully for two and a half decades. The trans lobby may currently be extremely vociferous, but it is also very small and its aims are not the same as those of gay men and women. Trans people might well need their own charity, but that should not be Stonewall. Without the support of its founding members and the institutional funds which were pouring into its coffers to ‘educate’ members of the civil service and institutions ignorant of how to use the English language in a gender neutral way or advise on how to create gender inclusive spaces and identity cards (two different for those whose gender fluidity is so fluid they don’t know from one day to the next how they wish to present themselves), Stonewall looks as if it could soon be a charity whose executives are no longer receiving controversial salaries.
Tile image: Rhododendrites (CC-BY-SA-4.0)