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Stonewall wins: The headline you should have seen this week

Stonewall wins: The headline you should have seen this week

Jamie Wareham
Jamie Wareham
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TL;DR: This case has many parallels to the recent Maya Forstater employment tribunal that also received a disproportionately high amount of media coverage. This employment tribunal found Stonewall had NOT been found to have instructed, caused or induced Garden Court Chambers to discriminate against Allison Bailey.

An employment tribunal has ruled Allison Bailey, the barrister who co-founded gender-critical group 'LGB Alliance', was discriminated against. - BBC

However, for Bailey, the case was primarily about "suing" LGBTQ+ charity Stonewall. In fact, she raised over £500,000 in crowdfunding to do just that.

This week, though the employment tribunal awarded her £22,000 for "injury to feelings" it rejected the large majority of claims against her former employer and all against charity Stonewall.

Yet much of the coverage has claimed or implied that she won her claim against Stonewall. But by the barrister's own admission, she lost it.

It's a complicated case - so here is the TL;DR - first published in our award-winning newsletter.

The background?

Allison Bailey was dismissed by Garden Court Chambers for sharing transphobic rhetoric on social media.

She used her case to argue that Stonewall directly urged her firm to investigate her for these ‘gender-critical’ beliefs and that the charity directly contributed to a loss in her earnings. Both claims were rejected.

The ruling found:

That Garden Court Chambers had discriminated against Bailey when it:

  • Posted on social media that allegations of transphobia would be investigated under its complaints procedure;
  • Decided that two of Bailey’s tweets opposing trans rights may have breached her duties as a barrister.

The employment tribunal found that Bailey’s “gender critical” beliefs were protected under the Equality Act. This was a part of Maya Forstater's case too, which we covered recently. And similarly to that case, the outcome could have been different if the organisation had different rules around social media policy. - QueerAF

Maya Forstater: What does the judgment mean for trans rights?
What you need to know about a case which has created such an air of uncertainty.

The tribunal rejected these claims by Bailey:

  • That Garden Court Chambers had treated "gender critical beliefs as bigoted.”
  • That there was evidence "that Stonewall directed Garden Court’s investigation process."
  • That “Stonewall instructed, induced or caused, or attempted to induce or cause detriment to" Bailey.
  • That she lost work and income when she complained about Stonewall's behaviour.

Sources: PinkNews, Judiciary

What else did we learn?

  • One popular LGB Alliance claim that it's made up of a majority of lesbians was exposed to be false: Based on a survey of members, Bailey said only around 7% of its members, in line with the general population, are lesbians - Tribunal Tweets
  • Allison Bailey's press release led with 'friend of JK Rowling wins' to capitalise on the media’s 'rage click' addiction to stories about the author.

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Technically speaking, this was a victory for Stonewall and LGBTQIA+ people. But more broadly, it could have a chilling effect on employers taking action against “gender critical” beliefs. - The Guardian

This case didn’t make any landmark judgements, but Bailey is claiming it as a win - and that’s no surprise given how much attention she got her cause through it. Bailey did not succeed at the majority of her aims, but the headlines from the BBC to The Times might have suggested otherwise to many readers.

Just like the case against Jaguar that effectively brought non-binary people under the Equality Act in employers' eyes, this case could have a broader effect. Neither set a landmark in ‘legal terms’.

But they both set a clear precedent to employers that you can’t discriminate against people's identities or beliefs. Even when those seem to oppose each other. That’s unless you have clear lawful policies that say otherwise.  - Trans Safety Network

What’s next is unclear, but we can take solace in the fact that when the government looked set to roll back trans rights, over 100 major corporations banded together to prevent this. - Forbes

And more broadly, despite the continued bombardment of anti-trans media, the UK public has great compassion for trans people.

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

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