Maya Forstater’s ex-colleagues pen explosive letter urging bosses to ‘stand up for trans rights’

Maya Forstater.

Former colleagues of Maya Forstater have urged their company to keep fighting their case and “stand up for the rights of our trans colleagues and friends”.

Forstater was a tax researcher whose employment contract at the Centre for Global Development (CGD) was not renewed in December 2018 after colleagues complained about her views on trans people and rights. She was told in 2019 by an employment tribunal that her “gender critical” views did not qualify as a “religion or belief” that is protected in the Equality Act 2010.

Earlier this month, London’s Employment Appeal Tribunal overturned this ruling, finding that her views were, in fact, protected as a “philosophical belief”, although the judge added that this doesn’t mean “those with gender-critical beliefs can indiscriminately and gratuitously refer to trans persons in terms other than they would wish”.

Maya Forstater insisted she doesn’t ‘think there are many people at CGD who actually think my views are beyond the pale’

While Maya Forstater claimed last year there were not “many people at CGD who actually think my views are beyond the pale, and I know that there are many who agree with me,” 87 of her former colleagues are now telling a different story.

In a letter seen by PinkNews, addressed to CGD president Masood Ahmed and executive vice president Amanda Glassman, staff members of CGD Europe and CGD said: “We were disappointed to learn that the Employment Appeals Tribunal overturned its 2019 ruling in the ongoing case related to Maya Forstater… We believe the original verdict was correct when it found that this type of offensive and exclusionary language and action causes harm to trans people and therefore could not be protected under the Equality Act.”

The staff members described the decision as “a step backwards for inclusivity and equality for all”, and said they were “truly proud” that CGD had fought the case, adding: “You have demonstrated that CGD is an organisation which values all our colleagues and is prepared to stand up for the rights of our trans colleagues and friends.”

They then urged the company to appeal the decision, explaining: “By appealing we would show our support for the rights of our trans colleagues and friends, at a time in the UK when they need it most.

“We believe CGD must take a consistent stance against all forms of bigotry, including racism, gender discrimination, sexism, anti-semitism, Islamophobia, homophobia, and transphobia.

“This is a moment where we need to live our values and show that we mean them.”

Sean Bartlett, CGD’s director of communications, told PinkNews: “Masood and Amanda were grateful to receive the letter, which they felt was thoughtfully framed and considerate and in the best spirit of CGD’s culture.

“They conveyed that sentiment to the signers and to CGD staff as a whole when informing them of the way forward [on Monday].”

When asked for comment, representatives of Maya Forstater directed PinkNews to her crowdfunding page.

CGD is set to ‘dispute Maya Forstater’s version of events’

Where does this leave employers? Equality and employment law require them to recognise and uphold the rights of all in the workplace.

Forstater’s speech and beliefs are protected – but so are the rights of trans people. And if speech crosses the line from an honestly held belief to bullying, attacks and intimidation, then the scales very obviously tip in favour of protecting the victim.
On Monday (28 June), Amanda Glassman, CGD’s executive vice president, said the company would not be appealing this month’s ruling that Maya Forstater’s “gender critical” views are protected in law, but would be returning to court to “dispute” her version of the events which led up to her contract not being renewed.

She said in a statement: “After careful consideration and consultation about the various legal paths ahead of us, we have decided to fight the next phase of this case back in the Employment Tribunal.

“While we are disappointed in the recent ruling by the Employment Appeal Tribunal, we note that the judgment makes clear that while gender-critical beliefs may be protected, actions that harass or discriminate against trans people cannot be undertaken with impunity… We will not appeal that ruling, but we will now return to the Employment Tribunal to make our case and dispute Maya Forstater’s version of events.

“We seek to protect our right and our obligation to maintain a workplace that is welcoming, safe, and inclusive to trans people and any vulnerable minority groups.

“We stand by our values of inclusion and that all people should be treated with respect and dignity.”