A woman who lost a employment tribunal for unfair dismissal after she was fired for tweeting that people could not change their sex has won on appeal, after a judge said her comments did not seek to harm trans people.
Maya Forstater was fired from the think tank Centre for Global Development after she criticised UK government plans to let people declare their own gender, tweeting ‘sex is immutable and not to be conflated with gender identity’.
An initial employment tribunal in 2019 ruled that Forstater’s tweets were ‘not worthy of respect in a democratic society’, and did not consider the ‘enormous pain that can be caused by misgendering’.
However, another judge has now overruled that verdict, saying that her ‘gender-critical’ beliefs were protected under UK equality laws because they ‘did not seek to destroy the rights of trans persons’.
He added that while the ruling would come as a disappointment to some in the trans community, the verdict did not mean that it was okay for people to misgender trans people, and did not change existing laws requiring employers and service providers to provide a ‘safe environment’ for trans people.
Mr Justice Chaudhry stressed that the verdict had not ‘expressed any view on the merits of either side of the transgender debate’, per Sky News.
‘This judgment does not mean that those with gender-critical beliefs can ‘misgender’ trans persons with impunity,’ he said, adding that ‘the claimant, like everyone else, will continue to be subject to the prohibitions on discrimination and harassment that apply to everyone else’.
In video statement following the ruling, Forstater said she was ‘delighted to have been vindicated’.
In a statement, CGN Executive Vice President Amanda Glassman 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.
Lui Asquith, director of legal and policy at Mermaids, said in a statement that the ruling was not a victory for anti-trans campaigners, and stressed that trans people were still protected from discrimination under the law.
‘We, as trans people, are protected by equality law and this decision in the Maya Forstater case does not give anyone the right to unlawfully harass, intimidate, abuse or discriminate against us because we are trans,’ she told the BBC.
Featured Image Credit: PA Images/Maya Forstater/YouTube
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