LGBTQ

LGB Alliance lawyer compares trans healthcare in UK to ‘forced transition’ in Iran

Protesters outside the first LGB Alliance conference. (In Pictures via Getty/ Mark Kerrison)

A lawyer representing anti-trans lobby group LGB Alliance has compared healthcare for trans people to a “transition or death” policy in Iran.

The remarks were made on the second day of a tribunal challenging the group’s charitable status, spearheaded by trans youth charity Mermaids.

The legal fight to overturn the Charity Commission’s April 2021 decision to register LGB Alliance as a charity is also supported by LGBT+ Consortium, Gendered Intelligence, LGBT Foundation, TransActual and Good Law Project.

While the first day of the tribunal on Friday (9 September) dealt largely with procedural issues, the second day (12 September) saw the first witness called – Paul Roberts, CEO of LGBT Consortium.

Roberts was questioned by one of LGB Alliance’s lawyers, Akua Reindorf, who also happens to be a commissioner for the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), the UK’s disgraced equalities watchdog .

In its case, Mermaids’ claims that LGB Alliance group does not meet two key criteria for charitable status under the Charities Act 2011 – that an organisation’s objectives “give rise to tangible, legally recognised benefits that outweigh any associated harms”, and that they “benefit the public or a sufficient section of the public”.

Much of the argument put forward by the LGBTQ+ groups, spearheaded by Mermaids, focuses on what LGB Alliance claims to do – work for the human rights of LGB people – and the reality of what it does in practice.

‘Hidden messages’

Roberts told the tribunal he believed that LGB Alliance had “deceived” the Charity Commission in presenting themselves as pro-LGB rather than anti-trans, and when asked by Reindorf whether he believed that the group was “careful to craft it’s messaging so it appears innocuous and pro-LGB” and had “hidden messages in their messaging”, he responded: “Yes. Some explicit messaging also but some hidden messaging.”

Reindorf spent the entire day questioning Roberts, working hard to paint trans affirmation, inclusion, medical care and trans people themselves as threat to LGB people.

As such, she argued, LGB Alliance has truly charitable purposes because it is credibly working to “protect” LGB people.

The barrister raised several anti-trans talking points, claiming that inclusive education and resources for young people were intended “to help them decide whether to go on a medical pathway to sterilisation”.

She also suggested trans women accessing women’s spaces was dangerous because “men” have a “propensity” for violence against women and, citing the BBC’s infamous anti-trans article, that cis lesbians were being “coerced” into sex with trans women.

Reindorf spent much of the day focusing on gender-affirming healthcare for young people, and discussed the Tavistock’s Gender Identity Service (GIDS) at length. It was recently announced that GIDS would be closing down, to be replaced by two “early adopter services” run by specialist children’s hospitals, with a view to open more regional centres across the country.

But Reindorf referred repeatedly to allegations among gender-critical campaigners that affirming healthcare for trans youth was “transing the gay away”.

LGB Alliance lawyer’s ‘transition or death’ in Iran claims

When Roberts asserted that he did not believe “transing the gay away” was a real thing, Reindorf raised reports Iran has forced gay people into surgery, or as she described it, “transition or death”.

It has been reported, though not unquestionably verified, that some gay people in Iran are being forced to undergo medical transition in order to avoid the death penalty for a same-sex relationship.

Reindorf also referred to the reports about Iran as “transing the gay away”, and pushed Roberts: “Do you not understand that transing away the gay is a major area of concern to an LGB charity?”

Roberts kept his cool and simply said that if the reports about Iran were true, that “everyone should be concerned”.

Despite Reindorf’s repetitive lines of questioning, Roberts repeatedly told her that he disagreed, and insisted that LGB Alliance’s claims were not consistent with his “lived reality”, which was to see many trans people “flourishing” and living “happy, healthy lives”.

Trans activist Felix Fern, who attended the tribunal, told PinkNews that Reindorf “probably used every gender-critical dog whistle you can think of”.

“Reindorf started off her line of questioning with a seemingly sensible goal,” they suggested: “To question the witness’s claim that the LGB Alliance doesn’t just act solely for the lesbian, gay and bisexual community, but rather has a hidden anti-trans agenda.

“However, that’s where the logic ended. What followed was a masterclass in conspiratorial paranoia of every crackpot theory we’ve heard about the trans community over the last couple of years.

“Reindorf is suggesting that the LGB Alliance’s actions are interpreted as ‘anti-trans’ because they are trying to protect LGB people from us and our secret plan to trans your kids and invade your spaces, when the reality is that as a charity they have done irreparable harm to the entire LGBTQ+ community because of their dangerous obsession with trans people.”

A tribunal is being heard at London’s General Regulatory Chamber until 16 September.

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