What is “Stonewall Law”?



Stonewall UK, a charity named after the Stonewall Riots of 1969, has been fighting for the rights of gay people since its inception in 1989. It was founded by a bunch of people including Sir Ian McKellen aka gosh darned Gandalf to lobby against Section 28 and would later go on to become a general advocacy and political rights organisation for gay people. Today it’s the largest LGBTQIA+ charity in Europe, so it’s no surprise it’s become the target of European queerphobia.

What is surprising is it happened so quickly. You see, despite being pretty inclusive of TQIA+ people these days, Stonewall wasn’t always representing all colours of the rainbow very well at all. Stonewall focused on LGB issues and worked with transgender charities but did not do any political organising or support for transgender people themselves. In 2008 they chose to give an award to Julie Bindel, who regularly refers to transgender activists as “the trans-Taliban” and has written articles calling trans surgeries “mutilation”. So that did not go over well with trans people who protested the event. The same thing happened two years later with a nominee who Stonewall themselves had criticised in a report. Eventually in 2015, after the passing of equal marriage laws in the UK. Stonewall would finally stop being ignorant to the transphobia in the queer community, with then Chief Ruth Hunt saying in a statement;

We recognise the impact of mistakes we have made in the past. We are aware that we have missed opportunities to open up this conversation far sooner. We apologise to trans people for the harm that we have caused.

So it’s been less than 6 years of Stonewall openly and actively helping to fight transphobia, including not doing transphobia themselves, and we have already got attempts to take the whole organisation down happening. LGB Alliance in particular, who are not just trying to ignore transphobia but actively promote it instead, have not only stated that they basically want to replace Stonewall as the UK Government’s go-to on LGBTQIA+ issues but also have a high ranking member currently attempting to sue Stonewall too.

Numerous transphobes have mentioned ‘Stonewall Diversity Champions’ in their rantings about how transphobia should be acceptable in society. Diversity Champions is in essence just a list of groups that Stonewall publicise as not being completely shit about LGBTQIA+ people. This list wouldn’t hold any weight without Stonewall’s decades of credibility built up from advocacy and campaigning. But because they have that this list can actually have a negative impact on businesses who are removed from it for not protecting their LGBTQIA+ workers from bigotry and prejudice well enough, but also a positive one for those who are taking the steps to do so.

Apparently this is Orwellian, authoritarian, and bad! Because somehow a charity building a reputation and credibility over decades is Big Brother or something? I don’t know, transphobes say everything is Orwellian all the time, everything that says people aren’t going to just accept being a dick to trans people so much anymore is 1984 or something I guess. I’m pretty sure Stonewall as a charity are entitled to A) believe what they like about trans people, like anyone else and B) make lists of people who they think aren’t assholes. You can disagree with the decisions they’ve made but to argue it’s unlawful or somehow creepy dystopia is just… absurd.

Alongside all of that, we also have the idea that Stonewall is misrepresenting the Equality Act, 2010. Which as we saw when again LGB Alliance trustee, Ann Sinnot on behalf of uhh… “Authentic Equity Alliance”????…. um. Okay. Well when that bigoted old toad tried to take the Equality and Human Rights Commission to court for a judicial review into their guidance on the EqA which is coincidentally the same as the one Stonewall use basically, she got shut down hard. There are some great quotes floating around Twitter from the judge about it including I believe the idea that the way she thinks the EqA should work is absurd and wrong in law. Chef’s kiss, amazing.

So what is Stonewall Law? Nothing but an attempt to take down a powerful organisation entirely because they are trans supportive and no other reason. It’s a lie transphobes tell themselves and each other to continue to justify feeling like they’re the ones under attack as they try and try to marginalise and oppress trans people out of public life and access to healthcare. Stonewall Law is just another transphobic dog-whistle, and you can find more of those here in my glossary of transphobia if you’d like.

Gemma Stone
Gemma Stone is a transgender writer who has been covering the rise of transphobic hate campaigning in the UK. She has written hundreds of articles dissecting aspects of transphobia including debunking blatant disinformation. She is very tired and trying her best, and hopefully having a positive impact on such a beautiful community.

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