Stonewall, just… no.

Stonewall Awards 2008 protestsIt’s getting to the point where I don’t need to write blog posts about Stonewall – they’re writing themselves. Stonewall won’t be “jumped into” gay marriage, apparently. Please, they’ve had five years and spawned a campaign on the topic of their silence. Also:

Stonewall has never pretended to be a democratic member organisation. We have never said we speak for all lesbian, gay and bisexual people

Who do they speak for and are they actually accountable to anyone at all? It’s starting to sound awfully like Stonewall is a well funded clique to keep a few people in champagne and canapé receptions. It gets better:

Referring to Stonewall’s estimated £5 billion cost over ten years for allowing straight couples to have civil partnerships, he argued that the disability lobby would not deliberate over the cost of wheelchair ramps.

However, Mr Summerskill responded: “It is perfectly proper to say there are arguments that will be used against us so we can counter them”.

But Stonewall made the figure up: The five billion figure wouldn’t exist if they hadn’t invented it “extrapolated” it. How on earth could it have been used against us if it didn’t exist? From other sources, it seems that Summerskill, as he did with the Liberal Democrat party, attacked Labour for not being progressive enough, which is somewhat cheeky under the circumstances given that right now Labour are a whole lot more progressive than Stonewall:

Summerskill took note that in LGBT people are still underrepresented in the parliamentary Labour party, particularly lesbians. This was also reflected in the mostly gay male a(nd suited) audience at the meeting. While praising the advances in LGBT equality, particularly through legislation by the previous Labour government, Summerskill also drew attention to some of the deficiencies in the Labour Party’s record on advancing LGBT equality, including the appointment of Opus Dei member Ruth Kelly as Equalities Minister, and the poor voting record on LGBT rights by Summerskill’s Labour constituency MP Kate Hoey.

But we’ve saved the best for last:

He also raised the issue of current laws requiring trans people to end their marriages to obtain gender recognition certificates.

Mr Summerskill acknowledged the “terrible unfairness” of this situation but said he had been in talks with ministers and officials about amendments to the Gender Recognition Act.

Whoops. Remember that demo a couple of years ago over the whole Bindel thing? You’re not a Trans organisation, are you Summerskill? What possible reasons could you have for talking to ministers about the GRA unless you wanted to cripple it somehow? This is such insane levels of fail that I just want to mash my head against the keyboard repeatedly until I achieve blessed unconsciousness but sadly that does not make for a good blog post. Luckily, I know from speaking to Lynne Featherstone (Equalities Minister) that she’s not going to fall for any nonsense from Stonewall but still… Nnnngh.

Decency prevents me from repeating the words being used to describe Stonewall and Summerskill in Trans circles at this moment, but most of them are four letters long. It’ll take four weeks but just in case we get something juicy back, I’ve just dropped the Home Office a Freedom of Information Act request, asking for any consultation/correspondence they might have on the topic.

So, I’m thinking perhaps, as it’s likely to be quite a bit bigger than 2008, we should have a few keynote speakers at this years demo. Perhaps we can get Peter Tatchell to say a few words and an MP or two. Stephen Fry would be nice, I’ve always wanted to meet him. Does anyone have his number?

11 comments

  1. I’m a married trans-woman who is remaining with my partner. We are horrified that we have to divorce in order to have a civil partnership. We are in love and wish to remain together.

    Does it really matter who discusses the issue with the government?

    Get your nose in! This needs to be a discussion and debate that is for everyone.

    So long as the end result is that marriage is owned by the state and reflects a partnership for all regardless of gender or sexual orientation.

    That’s what I want.

    1. Does it really matter who discusses the issue with the government?

      Yes, it absolutely matters. I’ve been in the same situation as you – went through the GRA forced divorce thing, it felt like part of me had been ripped away.

      However, I absolutely do not trust Stonewall to say the right thing to government here. Their history with the trans community is dreadful – they have this bad habit of doing things that actively hurt us. I would be entirely unsurprised if they weren’t lobbying to make matters worse for trans people with respect to marriage and the GRA, either through incompetence or malice.

    2. As Sarah said, Stonewall aren’t on our side and have never pretended to be. If they’re consulting with the government on the GRA it is because it benefits them to change it, not because it benefits the trans community.

      There’s also the problem that Home Office officials always talk to establishment LGB groups to find out about marriage equality and the Trans community is left out in the cold – LGB groups also purporting to represent T issues worsens the situation.

  2. If one has not done so already, meet with your MP and explain the difference between gender identity and sexual orientation and then go through the gross unfairness of the ‘forced divorce’.

    Then write to Lord McNally in MoJ and say the same thing and ask why the GRA assesses the most personal issue of gender in a relationship context.

    Pressure, pressure pressure!!!

  3. Independently, a non-partisan grassroots gathering of people will be peacefully protesting and flyering outside Stonewall Awards 2010 to raise awareness about these issues.

    Full info via Facebook event:
    http://www.facebook.com/#!/event.php?eid=150739108297486

    My big question would be simply what replaces Stonewall?

    Such a rocky history of minority representation in UK and public funding cuts make it prohibitive to start non-profit org without any sponsorship.

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