Today, after two years of legal battles, Sex Matters co-founder Maya Forstater achieved a landmark legal ruling that looks set to change the direction of the sex and gender debates in the UK, and provide legal protection for gender-critical people against discrimination and harassment.
Mr Justice Choudhury overturned an earlier judgment of the Employment Tribunal, which had declared that gender-critical beliefs are “not worthy of respect in a democratic society”, and were therefore not protected against discrimination. The Employment Appeal Tribunal substituted a finding that gender-critical beliefs are a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010. Those who hold such beliefs are now legally protected from discrimination and harassment in employment and as service users.
Sitting with two lay members, Judge Choudhury ruled that under the European Convention on Human Rights, only extreme views akin to Nazism or totalitarianism are excluded from protection on the basis that they are not worthy of respect in a democratic society. The Appeal Tribunal held:
“The Claimant’s gender-critical beliefs, which were widely shared, and which did not seek to destroy the rights of trans persons, clearly did not fall into that category.“
Mr Justice Choudhury said:
“It is clear from Convention case law that…a person is free in a democratic society to hold any belief they wish, subject only to ‘some modest, objective minimum requirements’.”
The judgment directly contradicts the views of Stonewall, the lobby group that advises over 850 major employers in the UK, including many government departments, universities, police forces and schools, covering 25% of the UK workforce.