Steph's Place

10th April - Reply To Ewan Somerville of The Telegraph - Stonewall accused of 'holding No 10 to ransom' after £650,000 wasted on cancelled LGBT summit

Opinion - by Steph


On the 9th of April, The Telegraph published a story written by Ewan Sommerville suggesting that Stonewall was responsible for the collapse of the government's "Safe To Be Me" conference. The report also suggests, the resulting bill should be sent to Stonewall.

Ewan Somerville's report is, in part - fundamentally untrue.

The Safe To Be conference was already in trouble once the Council of Europe (CoE) - the organisation co-founded by the UK to protect European human rights, named the UK in resolution 2417 2022, adopted on the 22nd of January.

The simple fact is the UK has a transphobic press and The Telegraph is part of the problem. 

Paragraph 3 of the COE resolution reads:

The Assembly deplores these phenomena, which can be observed throughout Europe, regardless of the extent of protection already afforded to the human rights of LGBTI people in any given country. It moreover condemns with particular force the extensive and often virulent attacks on the rights of LGBTI people that have been occurring for several years in, amongst other countries, Hungary, Poland, the Russian Federation, Turkey and the United Kingdom.

And paragraph 5 reads: 

The Assembly condemns the highly prejudicial anti-gender, gender-critical and anti-trans narratives which reduce the fight for the equality of LGBTI people to what these movements deliberately mis-characterise as “gender ideology” or “LGBTI ideology”. Such narratives deny the very existence of LGBTI people, dehumanise them, and often falsely portray their rights as being in conflict with women’s and children’s rights, or societal and family values in general. All of these are deeply damaging to LGBTI people, while also harming women’s and children’s rights and social cohesion.


On the 15th of February 2022, ILGA - The International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGBTIA, and in Europe ILGA) released their 2022 Annual Review, looking at over fifty countries within Europe. Again the UK came out very poorly.

Once this became known within business many UK and international companies started to pull out of Safe To Be Me - they realised that Safe To Be Me was a sham - a cloak to hide UK homophobia and transphobia. 

Within the UK, neither the ILGA annual report nor the CoE resolution was reported by the media, except for a few words from ITV - such is the control by the right-wing Conservative government, which essentially controls the news that British people hear.

Have your editors been to any parties at number ten recently, Ewan?

Yeah right.

The government were well aware that they were in the "last chance saloon" regarding LGBT+ organisation's participation at Safe To Be Me - I know this because I was at the meeting when it was being discussed with them. Indeed, I brought up the issue of transphobia within the press directly with Mike Freer. 

And the fact is Stonewall was not at the meeting that I participated in.

And then came that bombshell, thanks to Paul Brand at ITV - that legislation regarding "conversation therapy" (CT) was first being completely dropped and then the partial U-turn, still leaving trans people exposed to torture.

This was the last straw.

The decision to pull out of Safe To Be Me was made individually by every LGBT+ organisation - there was no pressure to vote one way or another and again Stonewall was not at that meeting, 

At Steph's Place, we took a poll of co-editors, relaying our decision to LGBT Consortium, our overview body. And the simple fact is by a vast majority; all LGBT+ organisations came to the same conclusion as us. 

In short, the government lied or, to be precise, Boris Johnson lied about their proposals to ban CT. 

It was not the fault of Liz Truss, Mike Freer or Iain Anderson, who we accept were not part of the decision.

The splitting of the T from the LGB is not acceptable to our community - we have fought persecution together for many decades and possibly more decades to come.

There is no valid reason for the government to allow trans or gay people to suffer so-called "conversion therapy".

If successful, a gaping hole will be in the legislation, meaning all LGBTQIA+ will suffer. Nor is it correct to suggest that trans healthcare would be affected. 

The loss of £650,000 is purely the fault of the government and we would suggest to Ewan Somerville that The Telegraph starts to report facts.

And the fact is that for LGBT+ people - the UK is Not Safe To Be Me.

Opinion - authored by Steph.


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