Barrister with gender-critical beliefs wins employment case against chambers
A barrister who tweeted criticism of LGBTQ+ charity Stonewall’s position on trans rights suffered unlawful discrimination and was victimised, according to an employment tribunal.
Allison Bailey, a founder of the gender-critical group LGB Alliance, sued Garden Court Chambers (GCC) and Stonewall on the basis the latter had instructed or induced discrimination by her chambers.
A panel agreed that Ms Bailey had been subjected to direct discrimination by GCC because of her gender-critical views, which were previously found to be a protected philosophical belief under the Equality Act in the case of Maya Forstater.
Employment judge Sarah Goodman said GCC was wrong to publish a statement that said Ms Bailey was being investigated and that her tweets were transphobic. Her claim against Stonewall, however, was rejected.
The panel stated in its judgment: “We concluded that her beliefs, not just about gender self-identity but about the pernicious effect of Stonewall’s campaign promoting gender self-identity, were genuine. We also found that these amounted to beliefs, not just opinions which might change with further evidence.”
Ms Bailey was awarded £22,000 in compensation for injury to feelings. In one tweet she had thanked The Times for “fairly & accurately reporting on the appalling levels of intimidation, fear & coercion that are driving the @stonewalluk trans selfid agenda”. In another she said the charity had recruited “a male-bodied person who ran workshops with the sole aim of coaching heterosexual men who identify as lesbians on how they can coerce young lesbians into having sex with them”.
The barrister, who crowdfunded more than £500,000 for her case, said: “This is a vindication for all those who, like me, object to the erasure of biological sex, of women, and of same-sex attraction as material realities. It represents judicial recognition of the abuse waged against us.”
A spokesperson for GCC said:“Our primary aim has always been to uphold our values and maintain a workplace that is inclusive and welcoming to all.”
A Stonewall spokesperson said the organisation was pleased that the claim against it was rejected by the tribunal. “The case did not accurately reflect our influence on organisations,” they said.
Georgina Calvert-Lee, employment law and equality expert at Bellevue Law said: “The judgment handed down today in the Allison Bailey case, which confirmed that gender critical beliefs are protected by the Equality Act, is an endorsement of this country’s commitment to diversity and inclusion in all its forms, as well as free speech, whether you like the content or not.”
“The case is a clear reminder to employers that they have obligations both to transgender employees and to those with gender critical views.”
“Employers should take care to ensure steps taken with the laudable intention of supporting and including transgender people don’t inadvertently infringe upon the rights of others. It can be a difficult balance, and employers should take advice from lawyers, rather than interest groups.”