Department of Health becomes latest public body to DITCH Stonewall – after claims trans charity’s gender identity advice to NHS ‘risked patients lives’
- Stonewall has been at centre of controversy since remarks from its chief exec
- Nancy Kelley claimed ‘gender critical’ beliefs – were like anti-Semitism
- Departure of Department of Health follows other big organisations previously
- Channel 4, Ofsted, Ministry of Justice and the BBC have all abandoned scheme
A controversial diversity scheme run by LGBT charity Stonewall has been dropped by the Department of Health as it became the latest group to walk from the initiative.
It comes after Ofcom, the Equality and Human Rights Commission and others quit the scheme.
Channel 4, Ofsted, the Ministry of Justice and the BBC have all abandoned the paid plan.
Diversity Champions is a programme where companies sign up and pay for advice from Stonewall on how to create an inclusive environment for LGBT workers.
But it was embroiled in controversy after Stonewall’s chief executive Nancy Kelley claimed ‘gender critical’ beliefs – the belief that a person’s biological sex cannot be changed – were like anti-Semitism.
And Matthew Parris, the journalist and former MP who co-founded it in 1989, accused it this year of becoming ‘tangled up in the trans issue’ and ‘cornered into an extremist stance’.
Earlier this year Kate Grimes, a former chief executive of Kingston Hospital in South-West London, called for organisations to withdraw from the Stonewall scheme.
In an article for Health Service Journal, she wrote: ‘I believe working with Stonewall is no longer compatible with NHS values and risks the reputation of the NHS and safety of our patients and staff.
At least eight major organisations have left the Stonewall group’s controversial scheme
Stonewall’s Diversity Champions is a programme where companies sign up and pay for advice from Stonewall on how to create an inclusive environment for LGBT workers
‘Hospital workers are losing their rights, enshrined in law, to separate bathroom and changing facilities. Anyone who speaks up may face disciplinary action, as policies are brought into line with Stonewall’s view.’
The Department of Health said it had stopped the programme due to money concerns.
A spokeswoman said: “Last year we conducted a full assessment of all our diversity and inclusion memberships and Stonewall was one of those we decided to not renew.
‘We informed Stonewall of our decision in October 2021.”
Ofcom is understood to have been concerned that its relationship with Stonewall through the scheme could jeopardise its own reputation.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission also decided not to renew its membership earlier this year saying it did not constitute best value for money.
The image, which was presented to employees as part of an internal BBC course set up in conjunction with the lobby group, depicts sex as a spectrum and defines gender identity as ‘how you think about yourself’
Stonewall’s Nancy Kelley claimed ‘gender critical’ beliefs – were like anti-Semitism
Sources at Ofcom said it had now ‘laid the foundations’ to help it improve support for LGBT colleagues and was confident it could ‘move ahead positively’ outside the Stonewall scheme.
But it will remain in the charity’s Workplace Equality Index, a benchmark tool for employers.
And the BBC is also understood to have quit the scheme.
It has emerged the broadcaster showed staff a controversial ‘genderbread person’ graphic in equality training using material from Stonewall.
An investigation by Nolan Investigates, a podcast run by 5 Live presenter Stephen Nolan, found that the image was presented to employees as part of an internal BBC course set up in conjunction with the lobby group.
The ‘genderbread person’ graphic depicts sex as a spectrum and defines gender identity as ‘how you think about yourself’. It was apparently shown to BBC staff with no alternative explanations despite these ideas being contested.
A spokesperson for BBC said: ‘The BBC acts independently in all our aspects of our operations, from HR policy to editorial guidelines and content.
‘We aim to be industry leading on workforce inclusion and take advice from a range of external organisations, however we make the final decision on any BBC policies or practices ourselves.
‘We do not take legal advice from Stonewall and we do not subscribe to Stonewall’s campaigning. The charity simply provides advice that we are able to consider.
‘As a broadcaster, we have our own values and editorial standards – these are clearly set out and published in our Editorial Guidelines. We are also governed by the Royal Charter and the Ofcom Broadcasting Code.’
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