Discrimination case against Belfast Film Festival

by Sara Morrison

Discrimination case against Belfast Film Festival

by Sara Morrison
Sara Morrison
Case Owner
Until recently, I was the Inclusion/Audience Development Coordinator for Belfast Film Festival. I am a single mother and have been suspended from my workplace for holding gender critical beliefs.
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Sara Morrison
Case Owner
Until recently, I was the Inclusion/Audience Development Coordinator for Belfast Film Festival. I am a single mother and have been suspended from my workplace for holding gender critical beliefs.
Pledge now

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Latest: July 10, 2024

A Correction and clarification

In the original description of the case outline, we stated that Sara had been suspended from her workplace for holding gender-critical beliefs. That is not quite accurate. Sara faced calls for her su…

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My name is Sara Morrison and my employer, Belfast Film Festival, has de facto suspended me from work because I spoke at a ‘Let Women Speak’ event in Belfast on April 16th 2023.

I am crowdfunding to pay for my legal representation.  I have submitted a claim for discrimination to the employment tribunal. I don’t believe that anybody should be discriminated against for having gender critical views, and talking about them, and my employer should not have suspended me for doing so.

I attended ‘Let Women Speak’ as a private citizen. I was there with friends, and very clearly not there in a work capacity. I plucked up the courage to take the microphone, and I spoke about the harassment and intimidation that women experience when they express views similar to mine, that women’s rights are threatened by people claiming they can change sex.

This event was focussed on protecting privacy, safety and dignity for women and children and was attended by a large and peaceful crowd.

Within an hour of my speech, the online harassment began. A photograph of me and my full name was circulated on Twitter. The online harassment continued over the weekend, and eventually the online bullies identified my workplace. My employer, other staff, stakeholders and previous employees were also targeted online.

I discussed what was happening with my employer and I informed the Police who visited the online bullies. I was advised by the police to put CCTV security in my home. It has been a frightening and stressful experience.

Everything was quiet for a few months - until July. A local trans focused organisation, whom I have worked with regularly and successfully in the past, contacted my employer to say that they look exception to having any dealings with me. The Let Women Speak event was specifically referenced in their communication. Soon after that, various other LGBT+ organisations then followed suit, and it became clear that a campaign was being orchestrated against me. Emails, texts and tweets implied I was ‘an unsafe person to be around’ and mistakenly aligned my views with an alleged ‘anti-gay fascist’.

These untrue accusations are hurtful. I have never, in all my years of working in the arts been anything other than fully inclusive.

The hate campaign against me became frenzied and escalated across social media. My employer succumbed to the escalating threats they received and made a public statement to inform my online bullies that I would be investigated and that they passionately supported the values of my bullies and would celebrate and defend them.

The stress and anxiety this has caused me has been overwhelming and exhausting. It’s not an exaggeration to say that at times I have been unable to carry out daily tasks.

I have been off work since July with work related stress. Rather than support me when I was experiencing external bullying, my employer initiated an investigation into me, the terms of which are still very unclear to me.  My employer has denied my access to emails, shared work drive, and requested return of my office keys etc and I still don’t know when this so-called investigation will end.

My employer BFF has never attempted to explain to me why they decided to instigate an investigation three months after I spoke at the event. No support was offered to me following the online harassment and abuse.

My employer even publicly sided with the online bullies.

My case is therefore that my employer is discriminating against me due to my support of women’s rights, and the holding of gender critical beliefs.I have spent my life supporting women’s rights. I worked for Women’s Aid to re-establish a much-needed rape crisis service for Northern Ireland and deeply understand that consent is fundamental right for women.

Why is this important

  • freedom of expression/speech in the arts
  • standing up against the silencing of legally held beliefs and the chilling effect of oppression.
  • In Northern Ireland it’s particularly important that publicly funded arts organisations act fairly and are impartial.
  • I am a single mother. They came after me as an easy target to silence and bully.

Currently, I don’t know if I have a job or not. I have had to rely on financial support from family and friends to keep a roof over my head.

I am crowdfunding to pay for legal representation to take this case to an employment tribunal, to show that no one should be discriminated against for having gender critical views and talking about them. My solicitor has recommended that I raise £15,000.  All funds are held by CrowdJustice alone and when I have met my target are sent to my solicitor.

Thank you for taking the time to read about my case.

Please donate if you can to support this very important legal challenge, and please share with others who may wish to support me.


Update 3

Sara Morrison

July 10, 2024

A Correction and clarification

In the original description of the case outline, we stated that Sara had been suspended from her workplace for holding gender-critical beliefs. That is not quite accurate. Sara faced calls for her suspension and removal from involvement in future activities by her employer and in response to same, her employer announced via Twitter/X that "We have been made aware of the incident and are investigating. We want to reassure you that the Belfast Film Festival passionately supports your values. We will celebrate and defend them."

We consider that it is clear from this tweet Sara's employer has taken sides in this debate and was taking a side against its employee, despite Sara making her employer aware of the abuse and harassment she was being subjected to for months beforehand, which we consider exhibits a bias and failure in their duty of care towards Sara.

This decision to conduct a disciplinary investigation within her workplace is a clear detriment to Sara, escalating the harassment to which she has already been subjected into a disciplinary investigation within her workplace causing her stress and upset. Sara thus went on sickness related absence on 25th July and remains on sickness absence. 

Therefore, it was not accurate for us to say Sara was suspended. If anyone who has donated to Sara's case feels misled in any way, we are more than happy to facilitate a refund. Please email me at [email protected] and I can deal with your request.

Update 2

Sara Morrison

June 5, 2024

We've got a Court date

The Case Management Preliminary Hearing took place at the Employment Tribunal in Belfast on 30th May 2024.

The Judge timetabled the case towards hearing and set the various procedural steps that should be taken in the run-up to Trial.

The case has been listed for Hearing for 5 days, commencing on 13th January 2025. 

There is a lot of work for the Sara and legal team to be getting on with in preparation for this.

Update 1

Sara Morrison

Jan. 26, 2024

Media splash

Sara's cause has truly captured the public and media attention in Northern Ireland and will be highlighted in the Free Speech Union Speakeasy Event at Titanic Hotel, Belfast this evening. Simon has now been invited to join the panel to discuss the case, alongside the "sister" Terfed out case (Assaulted and refused service at a pub for supporting women’s rights (crowdjustice.com) ).

Tickets for tonight (Friday 26th January) are still available at:

FSU BELFAST SPEAKEASY: The State of Free Speech in Northern Ireland Tickets, Fri 26 Jan 2024 at 18:30 | Eventbrite 

You can read our great press coverage at:

Free Speech Union Belfast event debates hate crime concerns | BelfastTelegraph.co.uk 

Robinson's Bar: Father Ted co-creator Graham Linehan in legal action against Belfast pub 'after he was asked to leave for his gender critical beliefs’ | BelfastTelegraph.co.uk 

Father Ted writer Graham Linehan among group taking legal action against Belfast pub in row over ‘gender critical beliefs’ – The Irish News

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