Maya Forstater

The judgment noted that, under the European Convention on Human Rights, the only types of beliefs excluded from protection were those “akin to Nazism or totalitarianism”.

The ruling said that Forstater’s “gender-critical beliefs, which were widely shared, and which did not seek to destroy the rights of trans persons, clearly did not fall into that category”.

Forstater said afterwards: “Thousands of ordinary people supported my case and today I’m pleased and proud to say that we’ve been vindicated.”

She added that “being free to hold a belief means the freedom from being harassed, discriminated against or having your livelihood taken away from you”.

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Rowling, who backed Forstater after the original case, sent her a message of congratulation yesterday. The swimmer Sharron Davies and the broadcaster Jonathan Ross also voiced their support.

Forstater argued at the tribunal: “I believe that it is impossible to change sex or to lose your sex. Girls grow up to be women. Boys grow up to be men. No change of clothes or hairstyle, no plastic surgery, no accident or illness, no course of hormones, no force of will or social conditioning, no declaration can turn a female person into a male, or a male person into a female.”

Employment law experts predicted that adding “gender critical” views to the list of religious beliefs and philosophies protected under law would create difficulties for employers.

“This ruling will be particularly difficult for human resources bosses at businesses,” said Beth Hale, of the law firm CM Murray.

She said it “reaffirms the law — but it involves such a sensitive issue around which the public temperature is so high that it will be difficult for employers”.

However, Peter Daly of the firm Doyle Clayton, which represented Forstater, said he did not expect the ruling to lead to a rush of workplace grievances about trans people being “misgendered”. “The vast majority of people understand that work is a place to avoid the causing of unnecessary offence,” said Daly.

“Discrimination law already protects the beliefs of lots of different groups who hold conflicting views of the world, and who might very well be offended by their colleagues’ beliefs. Gender critical beliefs are no more likely to lead to workplace disputes than any of these.”

The judicial panel made clear that the ruling “does not mean that those with gender-critical beliefs can ‘misgender’ trans persons with impunity”.

The ruling added that Forstater, “like everyone else, will continue to be subject to the prohibitions on discrimination and harassment” under equality legislation.

Amanda Glassman, the chief executive of the think tank that sacked Forstater, described the ruling as “disappointing and surprising”.

A spokesman for the think tank said that it had not yet decided whether to apply to take the case to the Court of Appeal.

Source : https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/420d470e-c9d6-11eb-b255-82dcc5007185?shareToken=774dd22b6e5c35a8effd8033d01c8718

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