Stonewall CEO dismisses ‘conspiracy theories’ about her departure

Stonewall members have been backing trans rights as part of LGBT rights.

Stonewall CEO Ruth Hunt indirectly dismissed reports that she is stepping down because of backlash to her stance on trans rights.

Hunt announced her departure from Stonewall in a statement published this week. On Sunday (February 24), she thanked those who have expressed “wonderful, heart-warming responses” to her news.

She then added: “I’ve also REALLY enjoyed the conspiracy theories about my departure AFTER 14 YEARS. I know it’s hard to believe, in this day and age, but sometimes things are exactly as described.”

Her tweets came after The Sunday Times published an article titled “Stonewall drives away backers with ‘trans’ agenda,” suggesting that backlash to the group’s stance on trans rights led Hunt to step down.

The article’s first paragraph read: “The chief executive of the campaign group Stonewall, Ruth Hunt, has resigned after a growing protest by leading gay and lesbian supporters against her stance on promoting transgender rights.”

Stonewall has been campaigning for trans rights.

T-shirts reinventing Stonewall’s famous slogan in support of trans rights were unveiled in 2018. (Stonewall)

Screenwriter Maureen Chadwick is named as one former Stonewall supporter who, along with her partner Kath Gotts, stopped donating to the group due to their support for trans rights. The article quotes two other people making similar complaints without naming them—it’s not explained why these sources are given anonymity.

Hunt retweeted a post from Stonewall Ambassador Iain Anderson criticising the piece as “a travesty.”

Anderson wrote: “This story is a travesty of the truth—Stonewall⁩ has driven acceptance for all LGBTQ people – ⁦Ruth Hunt⁩ has been an outstanding leader—and I am proud to support her.”

“Trans people face abuse and discrimination on a daily basis, and I am proud of the work that Stonewall is doing to support the rights and dignity of trans people in the UK and abroad.”

— Michael Cashman CBE

The Sunday Times article mentioned a drop in donations between 2016 and 2017, even though Stonewall launched its campaign to support trans rights already in 2015, the year after Hunt took over as chief executive.

On the point of donations, Stonewall tells PinkNews the campaigning group has just filed its latest accounts with the Charity Commission, but that they recorded a 11 percent increase in individuals donations over the 2017/18 year.

Stonewall tells PinkNews that there is nothing to add to Hunt’s statement and that the board is fully supportive of the championing of trans rights initiated by the outgoing chief executive.

Jan Gooding, Chair of the Board of Trustees at Stonewall, said in a statement: “The full Board of Trustees, staff team and overwhelming majority of our supporters are absolutely committed to our work on trans equality, and that will not change when our CEO changes.”

Stonewall founder Michael Cashman backs support for trans rights

Stonewall founder Michael Cashman also expressed support for the group’s stance on trans rights.

He wrote in a statement on Twitter: “As a founding member of Stonewall, I support their work on trans equality without reservation. Trans people face abuse and discrimination on a daily basis, and I am proud of the work that Stonewall is doing to support the rights and dignity of trans people in the UK and abroad.”

The Labour peer also called out negative reporting of trans issues in the British media.

“I ask you to imagine, you are a trans-woman, or a trans-man, and you are trying to be who you are. You open the newspapers, turn on the media, hatred and misrepresentation piles upon you. How would you feel if others backed away & took the easy option?” he wrote on Twitter on Saturday (February 22), adding: “I will never back away.”

Stonewall has previously denounced as “inaccurate” a Sunday Times article published in December accusing the Big Lottery Fund of breaking its rules on political donations for backing the group with a £500,000 grant.

The newspaper had also objected to a Big Lottery Fund grant to the transgender children charity Mermaids, which led the National Lottery Community Fund to review its funding.

The National Lottery Community Fund announced this week the review found no evidence to back the allegations made against Mermaids and was therefore awarding the charity the £500,000 grant.