Tax expert, 47, who was lost job for tweeting ‘men cannot become women’ wins appeal at employment tribunal – as judge says ‘some trans people will be disappointed by this judgment’
- Maya Forstater’s contract was not renewed in March 2019 after Twitter posts
- They opposed Gender Recognition Act plan to let people identify as opposite sex
- Central London Employment Tribunal had originally upheld the dismissal
- But High Court today said it had made an error in law and ordered new tribunal
A tax expert who lost her job after claiming people cannot change their biological sex has won her appeal against an employment tribunal.
Maya Forstater’s contract was not renewed in March 2019 after she posted tweets opposing government proposals to reform the Gender Recognition Act to allow people to identify as the opposite sex.
The Central London Employment Tribunal had originally upheld the dismissal following the posts.
But this morning a High Court judge said the original tribunal had ‘erred in law’, but added: ‘This judgment does not mean that those with gender-critical beliefs can ‘misgender’ trans persons with impunity.’
Finding in favour of Ms Forstater, Mr Justice Choudhury said her views ‘may well be profoundly offensive and even distressing’, but said they ‘must be tolerated in a pluralist society’.
Ms Forstater, 47, who worked as a tax expert at the Centre for Global Development (CGD), an international think tank that campaigns against poverty and inequality, took her case to an employment tribunal on the grounds that her dismissal constituted discrimination against her beliefs.
Amanda Glassman, Chief Executive Officer of CGDE and Executive Vice President of CGD, said: ‘The decision is disappointing and surprising because we believe Judge Tayler got it right when he found this type of offensive speech causes harm to trans people, and therefore could not be protected under the Equality Act.
‘Today’s decision is a step backwards for inclusivity and equality for all. We’re currently considering the various paths forward with our lawyers.’
The employment tribunal had upheld the dismissal after judge James Tayler described her beliefs as ‘not worthy of respect in a democratic society’.
Her case gained national attention after Harry Potter author JK Rowling voiced her support, and said she disagreed with the tribunal’s decision to throw out her discrimination claim.
Maya Forstater who lost her job after claiming people cannot change their biological sex
Ms Forstater, 47, who worked as a tax expert at the Centre for Global Development
Ms Forstater, who worked at the Centre for Global Development (CGD), posted a series of tweets in 2018 opposing UK Government proposals to reform the Gender Recognition Act to allow people to identify as the opposite sex.
She wrote: ‘What I am so surprised at is that smart people who I admire … are tying themselves in knots to avoid saying the truth that men cannot change into women’.
Ms Forstater said that ‘when men wear make-up, heels, dresses they don’t become women’ and took swipes at the idea of allowing transgender people into single sex spaces such as changing rooms and prisons.
After her contract was not renewed she took her case to an employment tribunal on the grounds that her dismissal constituted discrimination against her beliefs – which should claimed she be protected under the 2010 Equality Act.
But employment judge James Tayler previously dismissed her claim saying her views are ‘absolutist in her view of sex’.
Ben Cooper QC, representing Ms Forstater at the virtual employment appeal tribunal today, said her views are ‘based on… fundamental scientific facts’.
Maya Forstater lost her job after making the comments on Twitter back in September 2018
Harry Potter author JK Rowling voiced her support and disagreed with the tribunal’s decision
Mother-of-two law student, 29, is cleared of misconduct by university after saying ‘women have vaginas’ during seminar on transgender issues
A mother-of-two law student who was investigated by university chiefs after saying ‘women have vaginas’ has today been cleared of misconduct.
Mature student Lisa Keogh, 29, was hauled before a disciplinary panel at the University of Abertay in Dundee after her comments made during a seminar on transgender issues were reported to tutors by her classmates.
But after a two month probe, which took place while she underwent her final year exams, the university’s disciplinary board has decided not to uphold the misconduct charge against her.
Today Ms Keogh hit out at the university for subjecting her to what she described as a ‘cruel modern day witch hunt’ due to her ‘gender critical views’.
The university deny Ms Keogh was put through the disciplinary procedure because of her ‘personal opinions’.
In a comment, sent to MailOnline, a ‘victorious’ Ms Keogh said: ‘As overjoyed as I am about this decision, I am saddened that I went through this at such a critical time in my university career.
‘The very end of my period at Abertay is now tarnished with these bad memories.
‘I know the university has a duty to investigate all complaints, but to draw this process out for two months while I was taking my final exams was needlessly cruel.
‘I always knew the complaints made against me were groundless and now the Student Disciplinary Board has confirmed that.
‘I was targeted because of my gender critical views – it was a modern day witch hunt.’
The row erupted after Ms Keogh made comments during a discussion on transgender issues in an online seminar.
She said during the seminar that women were born with female genitals and the difference in physical strength between men and women ‘was a fact’.
Ms Keogh was reported to academic chiefs by classmates who launched a formal probe for alleged ‘offensive’ and ‘discriminatory’ comments.
Mr Cooper said she claims: ‘Ignoring them or pretending they are not true is detrimental to an honest, just and fair society, particularly upholding the rights of women.
‘These beliefs do not involve any moral judgment and… do not deny the rights or status of trans people or their protection from discrimination.
‘I’m concerned that children and young people are being encouraged to make these decisions at an early age and are being led to believe it is possible to change sex or simply to be a member of the opposite sex.’
Mr Cooper added: ‘This is not a competition about who is treated worse or who is more offended by the other’s beliefs.
‘We say, applying the correct test, there can be no doubt that the claimant’s beliefs do meet the relevant threshold to be worthy of respect in a democratic society.
‘She accepts that [trans people] should be protected from discrimination.’
Mr Cooper said Ms Forstater ‘will use a person’s preferred pronouns’ in most social situations but ‘where it is relevant, she believes it is important to be able to refer to someone’s biological sex’.
The lawyer continued: ‘The claimant’s belief is that being transgender is a different category of thing from sex.
‘It is inherent in that belief that statements such as ‘woman means adult human female’ or ‘trans women are male’ are, for her, statements of neutral fact.’
In written submissions, Miss Forstater’s team said: ‘The label ‘Orwellian’ is sometimes applied too glibly, but here it is warranted.
‘Where the result is that important and widely-held beliefs about a matter of on-going cultural and political debate are deemed to be unsayable, something has plainly gone very wrong.’
Judge Tayler ruled against Ms Forstater in a 26-page judgment in 2019, in which he said her views did ‘not have the protected characteristic of philosophical belief’.
He concluded Ms Forstater was not entitled to ignore the legal rights of a transgender person and the ‘enormous pain that can be caused by misgendering a person’.
Following the ruling back in 2019, JK Rowling faced a huge backlash after tweeting her support for Miss Forstater.
The best-selling author wrote: ‘Live your best life in peace and security.. But force women out of their jobs for stating that sex is real #IStandWithMaya.’
The dispute was seen as a test case on whether a ‘gender critical’ view, a belief that there are only two biological sexes, is a protected ‘philosophical belief’ under the 2010 Equality Act.
Ms Forstater had argued ‘framing the question of transgender inclusion as an argument that male people should be allowed into women’s spaces discounts women’s rights to privacy and is fundamentally illiberal (it is like forcing Jewish people to eat pork)’.
In a statement released ahead of the appeal tribunal’s judgment, Amanda Glassman, the chief executive officer of CGD Europe and executive vice president of CGD, had said: ‘Our view is that Judge Tayler was correct when he ruled that the claimant’s beliefs denied trans persons their legal rights while also causing them personal pain.
‘We are hopeful that the Employment Appeal Tribunal will uphold the original ruling and look forward to moving on to the next case.’
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