Who are they?
The LGB Alliance is an anti-trans campaign group formed in October 2018 to oppose the UK LGBT charity Stonewall's support for trans rights1, including among its original signatories list a number of straight people who are known for their violently anti-trans public rhetoric (for example, Graham Linehan who used a BBC NewsNight interview to claim that trans healthcare was akin to Nazi experimentation2).
It has since then launched as a limited company in late 2019 and presents itself as an authentic campaign body representing the interests of Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual people. From its inception it has been the subject of numerous accusations of being a transphobic3 hate group4, with little interest in defending common LGB rights issues such as same sex marriage. However they have nevertheless shown an alarming ability to be taken seriously in the media5, with concerns being raised by the head of OfCom6 regarding the frequency with which major media outlets such as the BBC are increasingly accepting demands that any appearance or discussion of trans issues in the news should platform them for "balance".
Their founding members officially are7:
- Kate Harris
- Malcolm Clark
- Bev Jackson
- Ann Marie Sinnott
Ann Sinnot has a previous history of opposition to trans rights to access public toilets.8 She also runs the Authentic Equity Alliance through which she is currently crowdfunding an legal challenge for what she claims is systemic misguidance by the Government Equality Office and the Equality and Human Rights Commission.9
However, they also have a number of volunteer activists working for them without any discernible membership structure.
Recently they appear to have spawned several international franchises from Australia to Europe to North and South America.
Publicly their current campaigns at the time of writing are targeted at three areas.
Opposition to Relationship and Sex Education in schools
One particular focus of LGBA is attacking the deployment of "Trans Toolkits" for discussing transgender identities with school children, which they claim (with little evidence) are a danger to children and especially to young girls.
In their critique of trans related Sex and Relationship Education (SRE) they have denounced every major LGBT rights charity in the UK (with all the accumulated expertise that these bodies bring from direct work with the LGBT community). LGB Alliance seem to suggest that trans related education packs are encouraging young people to consider transitioning (in a strange reflection of Section 2810 era anxieties that childrens books teaching young people about same-sex families constituted "Gay Propaganda").
Away from their official campaigns, founders of the LGB Alliance have publicly denounced the idea of LGBT youth groups and other organised safe spaces for young people to socialise with peers and implied that these are some sort of child grooming risk11. It appears that the slippery slope concerns projected on trans people will not be limited to offerings for the benefit of young trans people.
Opposition to GRA Reform
The Gender Recognition Act 2004 made it possible for trans people to change their legal gender for the first time since the Corbett v Corbett divorce case in 196912. This came about as an exercise in compliance after the British government lost a case brought by a trans woman to the European Court of Human Rights13 and as such has been noted as having many shortcomings and imposing significant costs and bureaucratic hurdles on trans people. These barriers have meant an extremely small proportion of the UK trans community ever bother to go through the process14, and include outdated requirements for medical diagnosis despite the World Health Organisation having declassified transsexualism and gender identity disorder as a mental illness15. All of this has resulted in a rise in calls over the last 5 years for modernisation of Gender Recognition law in order to meet the needs and already established human rights of trans people to legally change gender.
With this background to the GRA Reform consultation laid out, it's not exactly clear that the Gender Recognition Act reform has any bearing whatsoever on issues faced by cisgender lesbians, gay men or bisexual people. Nevertheless opposition to GRA reform has been a defining campaign issue for the LGB Alliance, up to and including taking out two extremely expensive adverts in national newspapers suggesting that the GRA reforms would "give predators the green light"16 ultimately resulting in a warning from the Advertising Standards Agency17 over their misleading claims given that, up to this point, there has not even been any draft legislation published.
In fact their own page on the topic of their campaign against GRA Reform18 rapidly detours into concerns about disaffection with the charity Stonewall over their support for trans rights, and concerns about the idea that young gender-non-conforming people are pressured to transition (something which is to be clear absolutely nothing to do with GRA reform).
Calling for the withdrawal of the Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Bill
LGB Alliance object to the wording of the new Scottish hate crime bill. In particular, there is a definition of heterosexual given in the hate crime bill as meaning "being attracted to a different sex", which they object to on the basis of esoteric concerns that (they say) it should instead read "opposite sex" in order that the law is clear in asserting that sex is a clear simple binary. As a result of this they call for supporters to demand that the Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Bill should be withdrawn. While we take no view in particular on the rights and wrongs of hate crime legislation, it seems clear that this, like the other public campaign points, is a confusing and reactive attempt to push a legal perspective which is inflexible to the existence of trans people (or others for whom sex may be a less than simple matter to define) to the point of refusing any legislative reforms.
In general this is part of a pattern of a determined focus towards a vehement hostility to trans people and their civil liberties.
Attempts to target other diversity consulting service providers
It would normally seem quite unusual for a would-be LGB charity to focus its work on attacking existing LGB related campaign groups and charities, but that appears to be what LGB Alliance have done.
In April 2020, disaffected members of the LGB Alliance's private Facebook group leaked details of a plan to collate a list of Stonewall employers, apparently in an attempt to contact them and persuade them that Stonewall are somehow a reputational threat who would be best avoided by replacing them as a diversity advisor with none other than LGB Alliance. The hope appears to have been that this would be the source of a revenue stream for the LGB Alliance founders.
The spreadsheet containing these names and addresses of HR contacts to be targeted is still publicly accessible online at the time of writing and confirmation has been made by checking the document edit history of the work of activists on behalf of LGB Alliance to collate this information.
This pattern isn't restricted to Stonewall however, as LGB Alliance have also attacked most other notable British LGBT charities such as the LGBT Foundation, levelling accusations of child abuse advocacy around anti-agism slogans levelled at the Diversity Role Models, supporting protests against the award winning No Outsiders programme (albeit couched in a tactically necessary but unconvincing disavowal of the explicit homophobia which was a key part of the protests), and making sinister implications about school oriented education and discussion resources produced by the Proud Trust suggesting they were some sort of sex game for children.
Early connections to the US Religious Right
Alarms were raised relatively early after LGB Alliances formation as it turned out that conservative activist Gary Powell was bragging about having been at their first pre-launch meeting.
Gary is a Tory activist who has been to Washington to speak with the Heritage Foundation.— Queen Nooka of the Nooks (@NookaoftheNooks) October 24, 2019
He was at the LGB Alliance pre-launch party. pic.twitter.com/yXGnHqpORQ
Gary Powell has a long track record writing19 for (American conservative anti-same-sex-parenting) Witherspoon Institute as well as part of a closely-connected bioethics group Center for Bioethics and Culture which was founded by Jennifer Lahl (an outspoken critic of same-sex marriage20 as supposedly being a threat to women).
As may be reasonably obvious at this point, this was received by much of the LGBT community as a concerning sign for a newly forming LGB campaigning organisation with respect to any usually expected commitment to actually campaigning for the rights and needs of lesbians, gay men or bisexuals21.
Targeting of Sexual Violence Resources
Content warning: Insensitive attitudes to rape
The LGB Alliance has developed a history of attacking resources dealing with rape and other sexual violence when it suits their anti trans agenda. This appeared most clearly in April 2020, when they posted a long thread attacking the UK Government Equality Office (GEO) National LGBT Survey from 2018 caught their attention and became a target of their ridicule. The survey had quotes from LGBT people about experiences of violence including the following from a lesbian woman who had struggled to access sexual violence services as a survivor of same sex rape:
We do not report it as we are so used to homophobic behaviour that we keep our mouths shut. We are afraid of the police laughing at us. We are afraid of the humiliation of having to say we were raped by another woman. We are afraid that no-one will take us seriously
-- Woman, lesbian, 35-44, South West
The LGB Alliance responded (on discovering this report 2 years later) by posting the following tweet, as part of a long thread attacking the survey:
This might be taken as a one-off, but has since been followed up by their involvement in a mass pile-on of Rape Crisis Scotland over their attempts to combat a misinformation campaign (which LGB Alliance were participating in) regarding the use of the word "Gender" in the Forensic Medical Services (Scotland) Bill, highlighting that it was a lack of recruitment of female trained forensic examiners and not esoteric debates about the distinction between the legal meanings of sex and gender that were leading to women survivors having to accept male examiners in order to get forensic support after a rape.
Why would @rapecrisisscot suggest this is "clear communication" when it's the opposite? Sex has a well understood legal meaning; gender does not. The number of female practitioners is irrelevant to this discussion. Good law requires well understood definitions #SexNotGender https://t.co/gfM1FUDoRR— LGB Alliance (@ALLIANCELGB) December 8, 2020
This pile on activity was connected to hundreds of twitter users quote tweeting a domestic violence service attacking them for trying to clarify the legal situation, further spreading the misinformation.
Hostility to protection against conversion therapy
Multiple times, LGB Alliance have posted claims that laws against conversion therapy are harmful because they will be applied to conversion therapy for trans people as well as LGB people. Again, this is part of a pattern whereby harm to LGB people and other groups is legitimised in order to sustain their attacks on the trans community.
“Conversion therapy laws are Trojan Horses, ostensibly about banning attempts to change sexual orientation in adults, actually about banning therapy to help gender-dysphoric children and youth become comfortable with their anatomic sex.” #LGBIssues https://t.co/uQR0Ge74hu— LGB Alliance (@ALLIANCELGB) February 10, 2020
In fact they have suggested that conversion therapy on trans people is a matter of therapists "doing their job".
If you were to include “gender identity” in a ban on “conversion therapy”, it would become illegal for psychotherapists to do their job. They would not be allowed to explore all the reasons for the child’s self-diagnosis as “trans”. This would cause untold harm to kids.— LGB Alliance (@ALLIANCELGB) July 20, 2020
PinkNews: The anti-trans lobby group LGB Alliance has had not one but two fundraising pages taken down, following an abusive campaign against gay MP John Nicolson and “violent and abusive” language from its supporters