Maya Forstater has today (10 June 2021) won her appeal against the employment tribunal, which ruled that her gender-critical beliefs were ‘absolutist in nature’ and ‘not worthy of respect in a democratic society’.
In a statement on YouTube, Forstater said:
‘Gender-critical beliefs are protected under the Equality Act, and people who hold those beliefs are protected from discrimination and harassment. Under the European Convention on Human Rights, only the most extreme views, akin to totalitarianism or Nazism are excluded from protection, and the judge said that my belief, which is widely shared, and does not seek to destroy the rights of trans people clearly did not fall into that category.’
‘A person is free in a democratic society to hold any belief they wish, subject only to “some modest, objective minimum requirements”: per Lord Nicholls in Williamson [R (Williamson) v Secretary of State for Education and Employment  2 AC 246]. It is only in extreme cases involving the gravest violation of other Convention rights that the belief would fail to qualify for protection at all.’
‘Being free to hold a belief means the freedom from being harassed, discriminated against, or having your livelihood taken away from you if you express that belief. It doesn’t mean the freedom to harass others. That was never what my case was about. Gender critical beliefs and gender identity beliefs are both protected under the Equality Act, and so, too, is lack of belief. No one can be forced to profess a belief that they do not hold … and punished if they refuse.
‘This is about … doctors, parents, teachers and young people themselves being able to question the narrative about being born in the wrong body. Fundamentally it’s about people being allowed to talk about the material reality of sex.’
Just yesterday it was announced that charges had been dropped in another case, in which student Lisa Keogh faced disciplinary action from her university for stating in a discussion in class that ‘women have vaginas and are not as strong as men’.
Joanna Cherry QC, who had been supporting Keogh through the investigation, tweeted:
‘Universities should review free speech & equality policies to ensure students aren’t targeted by spurious complaints nor discriminated against, harassed or victimised for their beliefs.’
We congratulate Ms Keogh and Ms Forstater on their victories and trust that these outcomes will give doctors, counsellors and therapists confidence that they are free to offer patients opportunities to talk about their experience of gender dysphoria without fear of dismissal or disciplinary action.