Stand With Maya!
Stand With Maya!
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Latest: Sept. 2, 2021
12 days in court, 29 questions to answer, 6 months to prepare
I have written an article with an introduction and an update please share it!
The update is that following a case management hearing in August it is full steam ahead to the full hearing in March next …Read more
[This is a new case page - it is a continuation of my case - My solicitor Peter Daly has moved to new law firm so a new page is needed. Please continue to support my case here]
My name is Maya Forstater. I lost my job for speaking up about women’s rights and gender self-ID.
I took my employer, the Center for Global Development, to employment tribunal for discrimination.
The first stage of the tribunal (the preliminary hearing) in November 2019, was to establish whether my belief (that there are two sexes, that human beings cannot change sex, and that sex is important) is protected as a philosophical belief under the Equality Act 2010 (and also whether belief in gender identity is protected).
I believe that while it is right that people should be free to express their identity and trans people should never be badly treated simply for being trans, the material reality of a person’s sex cannot literally change, and in situations where sex matters, it is sex that matters.
I tweeted and wrote about this in the context of the government proposals to allow people to change their legal sex through a simple self-declaration, and what this would mean for women’s rights.
I was not accused of harassing any colleagues and I stated that I will use preferred pronouns out of courtesy. Nevertheless the judge ruled that my belief, in itself, failed the test of being “worthy of respect in a democratic society, compatible with human dignity and not in conflict with the fundamental rights of others” (This is part of the “Grainger Criteria” for being a protected belief).
After that the case could go onto the Court of Appeal, or back to the Employment Tribunal (to hear the rest of the case).
Why this matters
The belief I hold; that women are adult human females, and that a person with a penis is not, in fact, a woman is shared by most people around the world. In the UK, while 1 in 5 people are willing to say that they believe that a person with full male anatomy can be a woman, 3 out of 5 do not (the rest say they don’t know or prefer not to say).
The ability to speak clearly about the material reality of sex is important for children, parents, people in relationships, teachers, health and social care professionals, scientists and other academics, policy makers, the media, the police, the judiciary, athletes and sporting bodies.
It is important for everyone in their everyday lives that we can talk about the two sexes. We can treat everyone with mutual politeness and respect, but this does not demand that we deny reality.
Being able to talk clearly about the two sexes underpins the ability to fight sex discrimination, to undertake scientific research and collect statistics, to safeguard children and vulnerable people, to give children clear sex education and protect them from harm, for women to have control and autonomy over who gets to see and touch our bodies, to have women’s sports, and to protect the rights of lesbians and gay men. It is also relevant to other areas of discrimination including on the basis of religion, race and disability. And it is important for transsexuals and those suffering from gender dysphoria, in particular children and young people.
The Judge argued there is nothing to stop people like me campaigning against proposals to change the law to allow people to change their legal sex through "self ID", and to keep single sex services, but that we should use terms such as “women assigned male at birth” and “women assigned female at birth” instead of male and female.
In practice this makes it impossible to say why single sex services and women’s sports matter - because sex matters. The suppression of ordinary language makes this impossible to talk about clearly.
I am just the tip of an iceberg. Many people have been silenced or disciplined at work and in political parties and associations for speaking up on safeguarding, and for the need for a reality-based debate about law and policy on sex and gender identity.
The judgment in this case has already been used against me in other situations; to turn me down for work and to judge that my "suitability for Scouting" should be put into question.
Since my case became news I have heard from so many people who have been disciplined at work, forced to recant and apologise, or made unemployable for saying the simple truth that human beings are male or female and that they cannot change sex. There are many, many others who are afraid to speak up.
I worked at a think tank; a research institution that I thought stood for independence, intellectual rigour, evidence- based policy and willingness to challenge powerful institutions. These are my values. But I found out that I was not allowed to apply them to this topic.
CGD's representative stood up in court and compared my views to naziism.
Robert Wintemute an international human rights lawyer and pioneer of gay rights has written about my case . He said whether one agrees or disagrees with my belief in two immutable biological sexes, it can hardly be put at the same level as Holocaust denial or incitement to violence. He argues (as my legal team will too) that the tribunal erred in law:
If the Employment Tribunal had correctly made the essential distinction between belief and action, without merging hypothetical (speculative, future) harmful action into Ms Forstater’s belief, it would have concluded that her belief is ‘worthy of respect in a democratic society’.
Wintemute was also one of the co-authors of the Yogyakarta Principles, which are promoted as international best practice. He now says that the principles, first developed in 2006 did not take women's rights into account.
The fear that of losing your livelihood because you disagree with these principles has prevented people in research institutions, human rights organisation and women’s rights organisations talking about the issue. No academic conferences have been held. No mainstream organisations have published reports. No funding has been made available.
Meanwhile public and voluntary sector authorities have run ahead of the law, adopting policies and guidance which conflate sex and gender identity and failing to consider the impact of this on women’s rights and on safeguarding children and vulnerable people.
Even when JK Rowling made my case into an international news story, organisations that have the funding, the mandate and the space to pay attention to the underlying issue about women's rights and gender self ID, have let the news pass without comment.
When women crowd funded to take the government to court for failing to be clear about sex in the census and won, it barely made a ripple of recognition amongst people whose job is to advocate for sex disaggregated data.
This silence is chilling.
It is fundamentally important that people are able to talk about the laws and policies which affect them, in ordinary language that every citizen can understand.
People whose jobs involve protecting vulnerable people must be able to do their jobs using clear language, and without fear.
You should not have to be brave to state that there are two sexes, and that it is inappropriate for people with male bodies to be present in spaces where women and girls are undressing.
You should not have to be brave to talk about safeguarding children and young people, including those being encouraged in unprecedented numbers onto an untested pathway of early transition with irreversible and drastic changes to their bodies before they reach physical and mental maturity.
But right now you have to be brave to speak up.
If you speak up about this you may be called a bigot and hateful. You may called “transphobic”. Lies will be told about you and your character will be smeared.
But many more people will stand up for you, because you are speaking up for what is right.
JK Rowling exposed this to the world when she spoke up for me.
Please use the opportunity of my case to continue to speak up in any way you can. Please donate to fund the legal challenge, and please share with others.
Please also follow and support the work of the organisation I have co-founded Sex Matters.
[A note on money: Fund are transferred directly to the legal firm Doyle Clayton. Funds that were left from the previous crowdfunder have also been rolled over to them Any money that is left at the end of the legal process will be donated to other gender critical legal case(s)]
[A note on names: When you donate to the crowd funder you do not have to give your name publicly but it is powerful when people do. Please note that when you fill in your name it is only your “first name” that I can see and that goes on the public page. You can put your full name in the that box if you want it to show up.]
Sept. 2, 2021
12 days in court, 29 questions to answer, 6 months to prepare
I have written an article with an introduction and an update please share it!
The update is that following a case management hearing in August it is full steam ahead to the full hearing in March next year (a full three years after I lost my job!)
A set of 29 questions for the tribunal to consider have been agreed. These establish whether I was discriminated against, harassed and victimised because of my beliefs.
CGD have told the tribunal that if it is found that their policies created a disadvantage for people who share my belief, for they will be relying on the following as “legitimate aims” to defend their behaviour:
- Providing a safe working environment for all staff, including trans persons, free from discrimination and harassment and ensuring their wellbeing and dignity at work.
- Promoting their values as an inclusive organisation.
They argue that these aims justify a policy that has a discriminatory effect on people with gender critical beliefs.
Winning this case is important because it will show that protection for gender critical beliefs is not just something we have in theory, but something that works in practice. This will make employers and service providers pay attention.
Thank you again for your support.
Aug. 4, 2021
I keep getting messages, and finding ones that I missed on 10 June, like pound coins down the back of the sofa.
Thank-you all who sent messages of congratulations and joy!
I wanted to share these two ripples outwards from the judgment ....
Dear Maya, thank you so much for what you have done. As a homosexual man I will be forever in your debt and hope to support Sex Matters and other organisations and people as we tackle institutional capture. I cannot emphasise how much what you have achieved means to me and I am sure to others too. You have protected not just GC beliefs on the immutable nature of sex but also the protections that gay, lesbian and bi people of generations older than mine fought so hard for. Thank you. Thank you so very much.
I’m a civil servant and today our in-house Gender Network had one of many consultation workshops on whether to do away with all gendered language.
I had already filled in the anonymous survey but was daunted at the thought of expressing my thoughts in an open forum. But, because of your case and the knowledge that my beliefs are protected, and your admonition to be a bit braver, I joined the workshop anyway.
I cannot tell you the private glee I experienced listening to a fellow attendee quote your case multiple times in the context of not imposing beliefs about non-binary identities by trying to avoid traditional ways of addressing people in writing. She also mentioned the Census JR and the effort to get ‘X’ put on passports.
She talked about protected belief and lack of belief alongside the need for absolute clarity in legal documents, as well as the reputation of the Civil Service if we start using recently made-up pronouns and forms of address. I covered the detriment to non-native English speakers, neuro-atypical individuals, less educated people, and the cost of diluting the message to the target population, and I pointed out that men aren’t losing their words quite like we are.
If you’re ever wondering what difference you’ve made, think of this little workshop. There were differences of opinion but it did feel like we were being listened to before any policy was going to be changed. No one was hostile, the moderators seemed grateful to have vocal participants, and if we get sacked, we’ve got Forstater v CGD to fall back on.
Thanks again for all your support. I hope you are having a good summer
July 16, 2021
Forstater case to go to full hearing in March 2022
Employment Judge Glennie in the London Central Employment Tribunal today ruled that the case of Maya Forstater v Center for Global Development and Others will go forward to a full hearing.
Ms Forstater won her case in the Employment Appeal Tribunal in June 2021, on the preliminary issue of whether gender critical beliefs are protected under the Equality Act. The EAT found that these beliefs; that women are female and men are male, pass the test of being “worthy of respect in a democratic society”. This means that organisations must not discriminate against or harass employees, customers, clients and others covered by the Equality Act for holding this belief.
The Center for Global Development decided not to take a further appeal against this preliminary judgment but argued that the case should not proceed to a full Employment Tribunal hearing until a further preliminary hearing had taken place to determine whether Ms Forstater, who had been a Visiting Fellow with a series of consultancy contracts with the organisation, had any rights as an employee under the Equality Act 2010.
Employment Judge Glennie agreed that the issue of employment status could be addressed as part of a hearing on the full merits of the case. The hearing is scheduled for Monday 7 March 2022 for up to 12 days.
Maya Forstater is bringing a claim against the CGD, its subsidiary CGD Europe and its President Masood Ahmed for direct and indirect discrimination, harassment and victimisation based on her gender critical beliefs, as well as indirect sex discrimination.
Maya Forstater said
“I am delighted that the case is now going forward. It is important to me and to so many women and men. It is not enough that our belief is recognised as being legitimate, unless employers and service providers can be held accountable when they discriminate and create hostile environments for us.
As both the Employment Tribunal and the Employment Appeal Tribunal said my belief that sex is immutable and binary is “consistent with the law”. This is the law which protects women against sex discrimination, which supports safeguarding, and which safeguards gay rights.
It is frightening when you realise that powerful organisations are all lined up to bully, harass, and economically terrorise those who utter truths that are both consistent with the law and with science.
I lost my job in March 2019 - it may take me three years or more to get justice. This will be worth it if it helps to bring back the values of open debate, pluralism and tolerance on the issue of sex and gender, and others."
June 28, 2021
No appeal - "worthy of respect" stands!
“I am delighted that CGD has accepted the ruling of the Employment Appeal Tribunal that gender-critical beliefs are “worthy of respect in a democratic society”. This judgment will protect thousands of women who have been harassed, discriminated against and victimised for standing up for women’s rights, as well as the men who stand up with them. We can all speak up with a bit less fear.”
LONDON – The Center for Global Development (CGD) and the Center for Global Development Europe (CGDE) have announced their decision not to take the Employment Appeal Tribunal to further appeal. The case will now return to the Employment Tribunal.
“I agree with CGD that workplaces should be welcoming, safe, and inclusive to trans people and any vulnerable minority group. But women are not a minority, and the Equality Act seeks to protect their rights too.
We need to be able to talk about this and about women’s specific needs, and about sex discrimination and the basic facts of material reality. Men cannot become women.
I do not wish harm on any male or female who doesn’t conform to gender norms, who suffers from gender dysphoria or changes their appearance and the way they prefer to be referred to. I simply do not believe that this is the same thing as being the opposite sex.
As Mr Justice Choudhury confirmed, my view of the two sexes is the one that is held by UK law.
CGD has spent the past two years fighting against my ability, and the ability of others in the UK, to articulate the basic definition of male and female for fear of our jobs. Now it says it will “dispute my version of events”.
I am confident that the full facts, when heard in court, will show that I, like so many other women, have been unfairly treated and branded a “bigot” for speaking up to protect single-sex services, women’s sports, sex-disaggregated data and the ability to speak the truth.
Since the judgment was first announced I have heard from hundreds of women and men (including lots of lesbian and gay people and some transsexuals) who feel more confident to speak up.
They are revealing their names and faces on social media. Several who lost social-media accounts have had them reinstated. I have heard from women who are bringing grievances after being frozen out of meetings and insulted and undermined at work. I know other cases will follow as people challenge the harassment and discrimination they have faced for expressing gender-critical views.
We have already seen organisations like the Royal Academy and Essex University think again about how they respond to concocted claims of “transphobia”. These ripples will continue to spread.
None of this means, as Mr Justice Choudhury stated clearly in the judgment, that people protected by the Equality Act characteristic of “gender reassignment” have any less protection than they had before. No one should be harassed at work.
The next steps for me are to talk to my legal team, Ben Cooper QC, Anya Palmer and Peter Daly, and to begin to prepare the case for the Employment Tribunal.
I am deeply grateful to them, and to my family and everyone who has supported the case.
May 15, 2021
EHRC chair speaks up for freedom of belief
It will be a few months before I get a judgment from the Employment Appeal Tribunal, but the case is making ripples of change already.
When the Equality and Human Rights Commission intervene it sent a loud signal of recognition and support that ordinary belief that sex is real and important is "worthy of respect in a democratic society". This will start to be something that employers have to pay attention to.
Today the Chair of the Commission spoke up even more unequivocally in her first interview in The Times.
She said :
"someone who believes that people who self-identify as a different sex are not the different sex they self-identify as...a lot of people would find this an entirely reasonable belief"
"The principles are absolutely clear, this is why we took the decision to intervene in the case... the principles are that freedom of belief is protected. So there wasn't any doubt in my mind whatsoever that this was something that we should do".
At Sex Matters we have written an open letter to the EHRC Commissioners, which appeared in the Sunday Times last week.
It highlighted the dozens of cases we know about of people (mainly women) who have faced faced complaints and disciplinary measures at work for saying simple things about the sexes, for defending JK Rowling, for asking questions in an equality training session and for posting on social media. (We keep a database of the academics who have been targeted whose stories have reached the media).
We called on the EHRC to cease its membership of the “Stonewall Diversity Champions” scheme, which does not support freedom of belief.
April 28, 2021
All the skeletons, tweets, media,
All of the documents relating to the appeal can be found here:
Appelant Skeleton argument
EHRC Skeleton argument
Karon Monghan QC oral submissions Live tweets 3
Index on Censorship Skeleton Argument
Aileen McColgan QC oral submissions Live tweets 4
Jane Russell live tweets 5
Ben Cooper final oral submissions Live tweets 6
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