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Ofcom pulling out of Stonewall has broad implications for our rights

Ofcom pulling out of Stonewall has broad implications for our rights

Jamie Wareham
Jamie Wareham
Jamie Wareham, he/him, gay,queer,disabled I started QueerAF to fund queer media careers. Will you join our movement?
In a country where some kind of social media regulation is on the way, we need to be wary of what institutions say about our lives. The fight for our lives isn't over, and all of our rights are about to be debated once more.

Ofcom is the UK's media regulator for broadcasting (TV, Radio). It handles complaints, regulation and making sure hate and harm doesn't go unchecked in our content.

So when it signals that it's pulling out of Stonewall because its 'policy positions' risk Ofcom's 'impartialaty and independence' – the impact of their words are: trans people are something to be debated.

It green-lights this to happen, with even more furore on TV and Radio shows all over the country.

Transgender and nonbinary people are, under the equality act, protected alongside characteristics like race, sexuality and disability.

The reason the community at large have deplored this move is because it sends a signal to institutions everywhere, that being trans can be questioned - when in law, it can't.

You need only scroll down under Ofcom's tweet announcing the move, to see community leaders far and wide explaining, and condemning, why this move is so bad.

And in an utter sense of irony, at exactly the moment when we should be able to rely on a regulator, a BBC piece littered with dog whistles broke the story. It went as far as saying the LGB Alliance, a charity that has made its anti-trans views crystal clear, is a 'rival' to Stonewall.

The reporter follows a variety of gender-critical accounts, with little balance of trans voices.

But beyond this scary saga, are two bigger points at play here.

And when you connect the dots between them, this moment could have huge implications on our rights.

Coming to a Parliament near you: The Online Harms Bill

Ofcom covers broadcasting regulation, while the 'print' press self regulates under either IPSO or IMPRESS. And for now, no one regulates social media content.

The UK is looking to change that.

The Government is looking at whether Ofcom could also regulate social media, online platforms and digital publishing.

That's one plan being considered as part of a clumsy online hate bill.

A bill which as it currently reads, could see even more LGBTQIA+ content online blocked by 18+ filters, as we've seen time and again.

Stonewall is being used as proxy for attacks on the community

This also all happens in a week when (one of the many) former Stonewall founders, Simon Callow, has spoken to The Times again written about Stonewall being divisive for supporting trans rights.

Something, which inspired their CEO, Nancy Kelley, to write a bold thread that reminded us all, that like kids, charities grow up. And yes, sometimes they come out queer. Different to what their parents imagined.

So yes, Stonewall was formed by mostly LGB activists, including Ian McKellen and Lisa Power. But now, and worth noting with the majority of its founders approving, it's recognised what we all do.

We're stronger campaigning for LGBTQIA+ brighter than we are apart. There is more that unites us than divides us. That trans rights are queer rights for us all to fight for.

Wherever you stand on Stonewall, often described by smaller queer orgs as a monolith, now is the moment for us to understand what questioning Stonewall can do.

It plays into the hands of those who won't stop at taking down the charity. They want to take this moment, build momentum and once again question all queer rights.

Looking to take action? Trans journalist Jane Fae has got your to-do list.

This article was just one part of our weekly newsletter that summarises, understands and explains the news of the week:

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

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