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Anti-trans pressure group LGB Alliance's week in court: What have we learned?
Trans activists at Not Safe To Be Me protest | Angela Christofilou
Explainer

Anti-trans pressure group LGB Alliance's week in court: What have we learned?

Jamie Wareham
Jamie Wareham
TL;DR: The LGB Alliance is facing a challenge to its charity status. It's being led by trans children's charity Mermaids, along with support from other LGBTQIA+ organisations. At stake is the question of whether a group mostly focused on spreading anti-trans sentiment qualifies as a "public good".

The LGB Alliance claims to advocate for lesbian, gay and bisexual people, but a litany of evidence - largely from their own Twitter feed - shows the group is primarily focused on spreading anti-trans sentiment.

The group has even questioned existing gay rights equalities, like same-sex marriage, and advocated for curtailing some LGBTQIA+ rights.

The court case this week is part of a turbulent time for the organisation, which was rebuked by the fundraising regulator last week for misleading campaigning, while its sister group in Ireland was named a far-right extremist organisation by GPHAE.

What's the case about?

At the heart of this case is the question of whether the pressure group should continue to receive the benefits of charity status. These include tax breaks and being able to raise funds from public donations.

But to get charity status you have to prove that you are doing something for the public good โ€“ and that's what is being tested in court ย - A Mere Solicitor

It's being held at a first-tier tribunal hearing, which mediates claims from private citizens against government bodies in the UK - them

Who are LGB Alliance?

They are a pressure group that, despite purporting to be focused on 'LGB' rights, speak mostly about curtailing trans rights.

They were co-founded by Allison Bailey, Bev Jackson, Kate Harris, Allison Bailey, Malcolm Clark and Ann Sinnott.

The group opposes a ban on conversion therapy for trans people in the UK and gender recognition reform. They have campaigned heavily against the Tavistock, the UK's only youth gender identity clinic, and any form of gender-affirming care for young people.

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What happened in court this week?

It was a messy week for all involved, exposing the disquiet in the organisation's ranks as its representatives tried to portray an image of respectability in court while its members showed anything but on social media.

  • Mermaids argued that, along with Stonewall, they'd been the victim of continued campaigning to undermine their work, including losing out on a ยฃ500K grant from the National Lottery, which was withdrawn after LGB Alliance campaigning - The National
  • There is substantial evidence that shows gender-affirming care saves lives. But the LGB Allianceโ€™s lawyers compared healthcare for trans people to a โ€œtransition or deathโ€ policy in Iran - PinkNews
  • The LGB Alliance said other LGBTQIA+ groups were 'transing the gay away' and that gender-affirming healthcare in the UK was doing the same - Daily Mail
  • The Guardian was criticised for a headline which said the group was a "gay rights group." In this story, we also learn that a great deal of time was spent during the hearing on what the 'definiton' of a lesbian is. The LGB Alliance argued it didn't include trans women who are attracted to other women.
  • It was revealed that two commissioners of the once independent EHRC were representing the LGB Alliance during this case - Trans Writes
  • LGB Alliance co-founder Kate Harris told the court there is โ€˜no such thingโ€™ as an LGB childโ€™ โ€“ despite recently (and controversially) winning money to create a helpline for LGB children from the National Lottery - PinkNews

Analysis

The case has been adjourned until November 7 2022, in a break from the original plan to complete proceedings this week, after a further two days were added for additional submissions.

Until then, it's worth reflecting on what's at stake. If the pressure group can retain its charity status, the court will be saying that its actions are โ€˜for the public good.โ€™

Much like the chilling effect Ofcom and the BBC withdrawing from Stonewall had, it will send a signal that their hateful behaviour is sanctioned.


Jamie Wareham, he/him, gay queer disabled - A note from me:

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