Steph's Place

EHRC - Collusion with trans hostile lobby groups?

Investigation

 

We were saving this article to release over the weekend, but as the cat is now out of the bag thanks to several intrepid trans Twitter users and the fantastic Trans Safety Network, let's take a deeper look at some of the evidence of the EHRC’s apparent collusion and conflict of interest with trans hostile lobby groups that we have uncovered.

 

The EHRC’s Human Rights Tracker & LGB Alliance

On 21st May 2021, someone at the notorious trans hostile ‘charity’ LGB Alliance emailed Baroness Falkner, indicating that they were unhappy with the wording around the item detailing the failure of GRA Reform on the EHRC’s Human Rights Tracker.

This email can also be found on our evidence page in the document ‘FOIReq5 - LGBA’

 

 

On the face of it and taken as a single instance, it doesn't seem such a big deal. However, taken in context with other information from both this email and other instances it presents a much more alarming picture.

 

The first thing to note is that the email itself was sent to Baroness Falkner’s parliamentary email address, and not to her EHRC email address. Given the nature of the email was to do with her work as EHRC Chair, we have to ask whether this was done in a deliberate attempt to evade scrutiny and to hide working directly with LGB Alliance?

If it wasn’t for the fact this email had also been CC’d to Melanie Field at the EHRC then it would never have come to light via Freedom of Information requests.

 

The second thing to note is the nature of the wording change demanded by LGB Alliance. 

The images below show the before and after wording change.

  • Excerpt LGB Alliance Email 21st May 2021

 

(Note, this can also be found archived here on 27th May 2021 prior to the change occurring : https://web.archive.org/web/20210527155146/https://humanrightstracker.com/en/progress-assessment/equality-and-human-rights-legal-framework-uk-government-assessment/)

  •  Screenshot EHRC Human Rights Tracker from 21st October 2021

 

As we can see, the wording has changed from factual ‘declined to simplify the law to remove unnecessary barriers transgender people face in obtaining a GRC’ to the vague, trans hostile ideology aligned ‘declined to de-medicalise the system for legal gender recognition or move to a system of self-identification that some groups have been calling for’.

While the first part is actually more accurate in identifying one of the many barriers faced by trans people in obtaining legal recognition, the second part attempts to downplay both the nature of the reform and the widespread support for it.

 

Thirdly, we then have the fact that the EHRC then changed the wording without any apparent argument. Just this one email shows that the EHRC Chair appears to be working in direct collusion with the trans hostile ‘charity’ LGB Alliance, apparently changing official EHRC documentation at their direct demand. 

 

This in itself may also represent an apparent undeclared conflict of interest.

There is absolutely no mention on Baroness Falkner’s register of interests (Document ‘Reg2 - Falkner’, live copy here) of working directly with either LGB Alliance nor Fair Play for Women, something that is explicitly requested in Section 3, Non-Pecuniary Interests under both ‘campaigning groups’ and ‘charities and other voluntary and community sector bodies’

 

 

And lastly, theres the fact that the tracker was changed post publication without a word of the amendment being noted on the page itself - a startling lack of transparency.

 

Is there more? Of course, there’s more.

 

Other Evidence

Because this isn’t the first time the EHRC Chair has utilised her parliamentary email for EHRC work.

 

Document ‘FOIReq4 - FP4W’ includes copies of emails showing Falkner having direct involvement with the trans hostile lobby group ‘Fair Play for Women’ across a number of areas. It should be noted that ILGA-Europe stated that ‘Fair Play for Women’ are an anti-trans lobby group in their 2022 Annual Review.

 

This document includes exchanges providing her direct email contact information, as well as switching to her parliamentary email mid exchange to ask for direct phone numbers for ease of communications, and indicating Falkner is ‘Happy to work together’ with the trans hostile lobby group ‘Fair Play for Women’.

 

There are several other curiosities in this document too that appear to indicate utilising back channel communications.

  • Page 16 of Document ‘FOIReq4 - FP4W’ shows FP4W appeared to send an email to Melanie Field, cc to Falkner mentioning this, but that it was not received. Was this sent to a different, non-EHRC email address instead?
  • Page 17 of Document ‘FOIReq4 - FP4W’ references ‘The RA’ story, relating to The Royal Academy / Jess DeWahl events. No reference is made to this in previous email communications released by the EHRC, nor the email being responded to.
  • Document ‘FOIReq5 - LGBA’ includes copies of emails from 24th February setting up a meeting directly with members of the trans hostile ‘charity’ LGB Alliance. This follows a Board Briefing on 9th February 2021 but does not appear to be part of this activity.
  • In a letter to Sex Matters on 18th May 2021 (Unpublished Info : Sex Matters / EHRC) , It clearly states the decision to withdraw from the Stonewall Diversity Champions Scheme occurred in March 2021, one month after Falkner’s Appointment and shortly after the meeting with LGB Alliance on the 24th February. Did that meeting play a part in the decision to leave the Stonewall Diversity Champions Scheme, especially given the anti-Stonewall diatribe submitted by LGB Alliance as part of the Board Briefing on 9th February 2022?

 

It all adds to the mounting evidence that the EHRC, its board and current chair appear to be working hand in hand with trans hostile groups to undermine the human rights of transgender people in the UK.

 


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