Appeal “LGB Alliance’s” charity status

by Good Law Project

Appeal “LGB Alliance’s” charity status

by Good Law Project
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Latest: Sept. 15, 2022

An update from day 4

On the fourth day of the hearing of Mermaids and the Charity Commission regarding the charitable status of the LGB Alliance, we heard evidence from LGB Alliance’s co-founders Bev Jackson and Ka…

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Charitable status is earned by those who serve the public good. Denigrating trans people, attacking those who speak for them, and campaigning to remove legal protections from them is the very opposite of a public good. 

Whatever sweet nothings the so-called “LGB Alliance” whispered into the ear of the Charity Commission the truth was set out in a speech by LGB Alliance director Bev Jackson on 9 March 2020. She described their real goal as follows:

“We’re applying for charitable status and building an organization to challenge the dominance of those who promote the damaging theory of gender identity.”

Their purpose is the denigration of trans people and the destruction of organisations that support them, in particular through political lobbying and campaigning for law change. 

These purposes are reprehensible and they are not charitable; they are political objectives - to roll back legal protections for trans people. 

To be registered as a charity, an organisation must be established exclusively for purposes which the law recognises as charitable, and it must pursue them in a way which gives rise to tangible benefits that outweigh any associated harms. 

We don’t believe that legal threshold has been met. 

So Mermaids, supported by LGBT+ Consortium, Gendered Intelligence, LGBT Foundation, TransActual, and Good Law Project, are appealing the Charity Commission’s decision to award the so-called “LGB Alliance” charity status. 

We have instructed Bindmans to act as solicitors. Michael Gibbon QC and Ted Loveday at Maitland Chambers are acting as Counsel. 

The case is not straightforward. There is very little law about who can challenge a flawed decision to recognise someone as a charity. But LGBTQ+ people across the UK face an onslaught of misinformation and attacks in the mainstream press, in politics and on social media. Those carrying out those attacks ought not to be dignified with charitable status - and the attacks should not be subsidised by the tax reliefs available to charities.

We, the country’s leading LGBTQ+ charities and organisations, speak with the single voice of a single community when we say our community will not be divided. We oppose transphobia in all its forms. We stand together.

Details

You can read the appeal as filed here and the supporting documents here. 

Any surplus will go to Good Law Project’s Legal Defence Fund for Transgender Lives. 

Update 9

Good Law Project

Sept. 15, 2022

An update from day 4

On the fourth day of the hearing of Mermaids and the Charity Commission regarding the charitable status of the LGB Alliance, we heard evidence from LGB Alliance’s co-founders Bev Jackson and Kate Harris.

The day began with the continuation of Ms Jackson’s evidence regarding the formation of the LGB Alliance, the initial documentation evidencing that formation, and the early campaigns and activities of the LGBA.

The second witness of the day was Kate Harris who began by detailing the results of surveys regarding sexuality demographics of their subscribers.

Ms Harris was then questioned on the founding of LGB Alliance, the founding principles that the LGB Alliance is guided by, and their initial activities. 

The hearing continues this morning.

Update 8

Good Law Project

Sept. 14, 2022

An update from day 3

Yesterday was the third day of the hearing of Mermaids and the Charity Commission regarding the charitable status of the LGB Alliance. 

We heard evidence on behalf of Mermaids from John Nicolson MP and Chair of Mermaids Dr Belinda Bell, and from Bev Jackson, co-founder of the LGB Alliance. 

The focus of the questioning of Mr Nicolson was on his experience of the reform of the Gender Recognition Act in Scotland. They then spoke about LGB Alliance’s campaign materials and what he found objectionable about those. 

They also talked about Mr Nicolson’s tweets and his experience of social media “pile ons”. His witness statement is available here

Dr Belinda Bell then gave her evidence on behalf of Mermaids. This started by clarifying the position of Mermaids on definitions of sex and gender. 

The LGBA’s barristers took her through the details of the interim Cass Report and focussed on the use of the term “born in the wrong body” in the trans community. 

We went through the concerns of Mermaids regarding the LGB Alliance, which are detailed in Dr Bell’s witness statement

Bev Jackson began to be cross-examined by Mermaids’ barristers. This started by clarifying what “gender critical” views are. 

The questioning then moved onto Ms Jackson’s beliefs that those who do not hold “gender critical” views are homophobic, and that sex can never be changed. 

In Ms Jackson’s evidence, she stated that LGBA see the immutability of biological sex as fact, that should be taught in schools. 

Ms Jackson was questioned on the tweets of LGB Alliance, and whether these focussed disproportionately on trans issues, and overstate the position of LGBA. 

Cross-examination of LGBA’s witnesses continues today. 

Thank you for your support. 

Update 7

Good Law Project

Sept. 13, 2022

An update on day 2

We were in court yesterday for the second day of the hearing of Mermaids versus the Charity Commission regarding the status of the LGB Alliance.

Paul Roberts, CEO of LGBT+ Consortium, gave evidence in support of Mermaids.

LGB Alliance’s legal team cross-examined Mr Roberts on his Witness Statement for several hours, and under intense questioning, he was clear that Consortium’s view is that trans women are women, trans men are men, and trans people belong in the LGBT community.

The tribunal also ruled in favour of publishing documents relevant to the case, including skeleton arguments and witness statements.

The appeal is being supported by a number of leading organisations, including Good Law Project, the LGBT+ Consortium, LGBT Foundation, Gendered Intelligence and TransActual.

The hearing continues for the rest of this week. We will keep you updated.

Thank you for your support.

Update 6

Good Law Project

Sept. 8, 2022

The Tribunal starts tomorrow

Since 1995, Mermaids has supported hundreds of thousands of transgender, non-binary and gender diverse children, young people and their families, and hears all the time how vital their work is. 

It’s hard to grow up trans. And sadly, it’s getting even harder as some groups and individuals seek to undo the work that has been done on trans rights and trans inclusion.

That’s why Mermaids is challenging the decision by the Charity Commission to award LGB Alliance charity status and the appeal will be heard at a Tribunal which starts tomorrow (Friday 9 September) and is due to run until 16 September.

To be registered as a charity, an organisation must be established exclusively for purposes which the law recognises as charitable, and it must pursue them in a way which gives rise to tangible benefits that outweigh any associated harms. We don’t believe that legal threshold has been met, and are grateful for the opportunity to present our arguments in full. 

Mermaids is supported in this appeal by a coalition of organisations, including Good Law Project, Consortium, LGBT Foundation and Gendered Intelligence. 

The case is a complex one, but we believe we have a strong case. Win or lose, our community is united, and we are proud to be standing up against transphobia in all forms.

Thank you for standing with us. 

Update 5

Good Law Project

April 7, 2022

New hearing date

The parties have agreed that the short hearing scheduled for May 2022 will not be long enough to allow a full exploration of the complex issues in this case. The Tribunal has therefore agreed to move the hearing to a longer slot in September 2022. Thanks as always for your support.


Update 4

Good Law Project

Dec. 22, 2021

The Tribunal agreed with us! A full hearing on LGBA’s charity status is coming

The Tribunal has agreed to hear our arguments as to why the LGB so-called Alliance (LGBA) should not have been given charitable status and why their activities are not those of a charity. This means that, at a hearing in May 2022, Mermaids will have the opportunity to present the facts in full.

The LGBA wanted a separate hearing to determine whether or not Mermaids had ‘legal standing’ to bring the claim at all. We believe they wanted to close the conversation without having to properly explain themselves. We believed this would only have duplicated work in the long-run, and the Tribunal agreed. The LGBA will still get to argue Mermaids’ claim lacks standing, but only as part of the wider hearing.

As Mermaids explains: “We are pleased that the Tribunal has made the decision that there will be one hearing that deals with everything. We look forward to the hearing where the LGB Alliance will have to explain themselves. To be registered as a charity, an organisation must be established exclusively for charitable purposes. LGB Alliance does not stand for LGB rights, but exists to divide our community and denigrate trans people and those who support them.”

We are hugely grateful for your support so far.

Update 3

Good Law Project

Nov. 11, 2021

Their real purpose is not the protection of LGB rights

LGB Alliance’s trustees have now submitted a formal response to the appeal.

In addition to our grounds of appeal, we have now submitted two replies - one to the Charity Commission, and now one to LGB Alliance.

As explained in previous updates, we have argued that LGB Alliance’s real purpose is not the protection of LGB rights - it is the denigration of trans people and the destruction of organisations that support them. 

Its trustees deny that. As our reply explains, we think their response is confused. But their arguments do illustrate just how many knots LGB Alliance has to tie itself in to try to justify its charitable status.

The trustees are trying to make sure none of these threads are pulled on. They have asked the Tribunal to hold a separate, preliminary hearing to determine whether or not Mermaids has legal standing to bring the claim, in the hope being that they can win on a technicality before having to properly explain themselves. Both we and the Charity Commission agree that the question of standing instead needs to be considered at a full hearing along with the substantive issues. We expect a decision from the Tribunal about how it intends to proceed shortly after 19 November. 

We are hugely grateful for your support so far.

Update 2

Good Law Project

Oct. 1, 2021

Update from the Tribunal

We have now received a directions order from the Tribunal, setting out the next steps for the case to trial. The key points in the order are that:

  • LGB Alliance is now a respondent to the appeal, along with the Charity Commission; and

  • The hearing is to take place between March and May 2022 (date to be confirmed).

Full directions had been agreed between Mermaids and the Charity Commission, and they were accordingly able to ask the Tribunal to make its order without the need for a hearing.

Shortly before the order was made, Mermaids and the Commission were notified that LGB Alliance was seeking to “intervene” in the appeal (to which neither of them objected). In the end, the Tribunal decided to give LGB Alliance a more formal role than they had asked for, by making them a respondent; that means they will have to set out a legal case in full. 

They have until 8 October to do so, after which Mermaids and the Commission will have the chance to make further submissions in response. 

We will provide a further update when we have received LGB Alliance’s formal response to the appeal. Your support in the meantime is much appreciated.

Update 1

Good Law Project

June 16, 2021

The Tribunal has set out next steps

Two weeks ago, we supported Mermaids in launching a challenge to the Charity Commission’s decision to grant LGB Alliance charitable status. The First Tier Tribunal has now set out deadlines for the next stage of the appeal.

By 13 July, the Commission must produce a response explaining its decision to register LGB Alliance. It also has to provide copies of any documents which it relied on in reaching its decision, and any other documents which might support Mermaids’ case. Our legal team will review that material carefully and, if possible, will use it to bolster the appeal.

There will then be a case management hearing in early September, at which the Tribunal will decide how to progress the appeal to a final hearing.

For now, we await the Commission’s response – we will keep you posted. 

Thank you for your support.

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