Stand With Maya!
Stand With Maya!
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Latest: Jan. 1, 2023
End of year update
On July 6th I received the successful judgment from the Employment Tribunal, which found that I had been discriminated against on the basis of my gender critical beliefs by the Centre for Global Deve…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.]
Jan. 1, 2023
End of year update
On July 6th I received the successful judgment from the Employment Tribunal, which found that I had been discriminated against on the basis of my gender critical beliefs by the Centre for Global Development.
It put earlier judgment from June 2021 that gender critical beliefs are “worthy of respect in a democratic society” into practice. My win this year showed that protection against belief discrimination does not just apply if you keep your beliefs in your head, but includes protection against discrimination for speaking them out loud.
Since then I heard from hundreds of women and men who have been able to use “Forstater” to forestall complaints escalating at work, and who feel braver in speaking up. There are several cases ongoing which use the precedent including Allison Bailey’s (she won against Garden Court and is appealing against Stonewall), University lecturers Jo Phoenix and Cathy Boardman, the author Gillian Phillips, the Green Party cases (Shahrar Ali, Emma Bateman and Dawn Furness ) the social worker Rachel Meade, Sarah Surviving’s case against Brighton’s Rape Crisis Centre and the LGB Alliance case. In other incidents, organisations such as Nottingham Library have apologised for taking discriminatory actions.
Most excitingly some organisations have reviewed their policies, such as the Liberal Democrats. The civil service has allowed gender critical staff to set up an official network - SEEN, and there are networks emerging in other sectors.
Sex Matters, the organisation I co-founded, is bringing the debate on the Equality Act to Westminster with a petition that has nearly 65,000 signatures (please do sign - we need 100,000 signatures to prompt a debate in parliament!).
But my personal case is not quite over. I still have not received a penny in compensation. This is because the “remedy” part of the claim is yet to be finalised. It might be settled out-of-court, or we may need to go back for another hearing in spring (with Ben Cooper, Anya Palmer and Peter Daly). I may need to appeal for funding one more time.
It is important that my case reaches a good conclusion, and that I get compensation (we will claim for my financial losses, injury to feelings, aggravated damages and interest). Paying compensation is part of what prevents employers undertaking harassment and discrimination with impunity.
March 13, 2022
Half Time Update!
Thank you everyone who has supported the case, followed the @tribunaltweets live feed and sent me messages of support!
We are at half time and changing ends. Last week I gave my evidence over two full days of questioning.
Starting Monday it will be the turn of CGD’s witnesses Luke Easley, Amanda Glassman, Mark Plant and Masood Ahmed to be cross examined by Ben Cooper.
CGD’s case (as set out in their opening statement) is that:
On employment status - At no time was I an “employee” within the meaning of s.83 of the Equality Act and therefore my claims fall outside the Tribunal’s jurisdiction.
And if there is jurisdiction to hear the claims, then “The Respondent’s case, in short, is that undertakings are not obliged, on pain of legal liability, to have their mission undermined by an individual’s communications and behaviours, whether internally or on social media, which cause offence and disruption, contradict its policy of inclusion, and which are reasonably regarded as discriminatory.”
My case is that I was both an employee, a past employee and a potential future employee at various times (which are all covered by the Equality Act) and was discriminated against by being investigated without being given a fair opportunity to participate, and then having future work offers revoked.
The respondents are seeking to distinguish between my substantive beliefs (which they say were not a reason for the treatment) and the manner in which I expressed them.
The second part of my cross examination focused on this - picking through my tweets, the draft of my blog post and some Fair Play for Women campaigning material I shared to try to show that they were offensive. I don't think they were, and I said why.
If you want to dial in to watch the other side’s witness evidence don’t forget to email to CentralLondonETpublicaccess@justice.gov.uk with a request for Forstater v CGD.
March 10, 2022
A quick update
The first day of the hearing proper ended up being taken up by arguments about a Restricted Reporting Order that CGD wanted.
Their initial application was to have the names and email addresses of the four individuals who complained about me kept out of the public domain.
We did not oppose this. However they then amended the application in oral arguments to include job titles, then amended again over lunch time to specific, vague terminology to be used for the four, and then again in the afternoon to insert a prohibition to referring to the fact that three of the four were on the "Institutional Advancement" (i.e. fundraising team).
In the end what the Tribunal agreed was what was originally asked for (which we had not opposed).
PLEASE BE AWARE OF THE ORDER: The names (and email addresses) of the four individuals who made complaints about me internally should not be published during the course of the hearing, and up to the time when the judgment is handed down (the Tribunal may then decide to continue or change the Order). If from following the evidence and/or live tweets etc you work out the names of any of the four people covered by the Reporting Restrictions you must not publish this information: it is a criminal offence.
My evidence begins tomorrow, which means I will be in "Purdah" till its done - so no more updates from me. Follow @tribunaltweets to find out what is happening and to read my witness statement.
I have published my lawyers opening submission and evidence "minibundle" . It is fairly devastating!
You can also listen to my Women's Hour interview with Emma Barnett. If nothing else it was good cross examination training!
March 2, 2022
Four days to go till it all begins
I have written an interview for Sex Matters about how I am feeling
Thank you so much for your support, and for coming with me so far.
I still need quite a bit more money to get to the finish line (my legal team have done so much work!)
Follow the case on twitter #ForstaterTribunal
Feb. 15, 2022
Nearly there: I need to ask for your support one more time
On 7 March 2022 the “full merits hearing” of my employment tribunal will begin.
The hearing starts three years to the day from when I lost my job.
It is listed for 12 days (including some for the judge to read).
It is likely that I will give evidence for two days. I have submitted a hundred-page witness statement and there is over 2,000 pages of evidence. My claim is that I was discriminated against and harassed by the Center for Global Development when they:
Decided not to give me an employment contract to work a programme for which I had contributed to developing and raising the funds for.
Subjected me to an investigation for expressing my beliefs about sex and gender on my personal Twitter account.
Denied me any information in the course of that investigation about the complaints against me or any opportunity to explain or defend myself.
Decided not to renew my visiting fellowship.
Decided not to engage me on a consultancy contract to do the work I had developed and fundraised for.
I will be cross examined about what happened from the day I started tweeting about sex and gender in September 2018 until the day I lost my job in March 2019. I will also be cross examined about what happened before that; my relationship with the CGD, the contracts I held, and why I say there was a mutual expectation up to that point, that I would continue to work with them in 2019 and beyond.
CGD’s four witnesses Masood Ahmed, the President of CGD, Amanda Glassman now CEO of CGD Europe, Luke Easley, the Head of HR (all three based in Washington DC) and Mark Plant the Chief Operating Officer of CGD Europe will all give their evidence.
In its “Grounds of Resistance” to my claim CGD contend that I was not employed within the meaning of the Equality Act 2010, and that nor was I entitled to protection “as a jobseeker” within the meaning of the Act (these are the “employment status” questions yet to be dealt with)
They claimed that my belief (and lack of belief in gender ideology) is not covered as a philosophical belief under section 10 of the Equality Act 2010 because, they said, it failed all five points of the Grainger Test (we won that point in the Employment Appeal Tribunal in June 2020).
They deny they discriminated against me, saying that the acts I described either did not happen, or if they did they did not amount to less favourable treatment, or if they did it was not because of my belief.
They deny that what took place had the purpose or effect of violating my dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for me, and contend that it was not reasonable for me to regard the conduct as having that effect.
They deny that they applied any rules or policies that put people who share my belief at a particular disadvantage.
Alternatively they say such policies are a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim “namely the protection of human dignity and the fundamental rights of others, including but not limited to those with the protected characteristic of gender reassignment and/or those identifying as transgender”.
My lawyers will need to argue against these points, and I will need to tell “the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth” under questioning.
I have the same excellent team of lawyers as I had in the Employment Appeal Tribunal; Ben Cooper QC and Anya Palmer of Old Square Chambers, and Peter Daly of Doyle Clayton solicitors.
As you will see I have upped my fundraising target, as I have now received their final fee estimate.
I still need to raise a significant amount of money to pay for their time in preparation for the case over the next this month, and then for the 12 days of the trial.
Please help me to take this case to the finishing line. It will get justice for me and it will show other employers that they cannot ignore and abuse the human rights of people who say that sex matters.
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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