Before the debate can ever take place

Sarah Ditum points out what a disaster it is when a lobby group is also providing training to public bodies on the very issue it lobbies for.

And behind the scenes, let’s say this lobby group is influencing the policies of the BBC, so that before the debate can ever take place, one side has already written the terms in which it will happen. If you wanted to complain about that to the ombudsman, don’t bother: the lobby group also has the ear of Ofcom.

Quite an advantage, isn’t it.

It’s already happening. The issue is the introduction of gender identity in law; the lobby group is Stonewall, the LGBT rights group; and the consequence has been one of the worst ever interludes for public debate in this country.

Stonewall wants “people are what they say they are” to become law, and doesn’t care about the effects on women.

You might consider those consequences good, bad or irrelevant. But as a society we never got the chance to discuss them, because rather than wait for parliament to pass a bill, Stonewall simply wrote its own version of the law as it would like it to be, and then disseminated it through the training it provides to various public bodies, which have promptly fallen into line.

The Nolan report goes into this with energy, so that it sticks in the mind. Stonewall claims that “gender identity” is a protected characteristic, and that’s not the law.

Why would organisations comply so carelessly with such radical proposals? Because as well as inviting Stonewall to tell them what to do, they’ve also given it the power to tell them how well they’re doing, via Stonewall’s diversity champions scheme and equality index. Institutions that want to perform well on those (and what institution likes to give the appearance of failing at diversity and equality?) need to show they’re acting in line with Stonewall’s principles.

I still wonder, though, how Stonewall managed to corner the market on diversity and equality. Pink hair on a man isn’t really all that diverse.

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