Anti-trans LGB Alliance accuses trans charity Mermaids of an ‘offensive, homophobic conspiracy’

LGB Alliance logo and a sign saying trans rights are human rights

LGB Alliance has accused trans children’s charity Mermaids of pushing a “deeply offensive, profoundly homophobic conspiracy” at a tribunal questioning the anti-trans group’s charity status.

The tribunal hearing an appeal to overturn LGB Alliance’s registration as a charity resumed this week. The case, spearheaded by trans children’s charity Mermaids and supported by an array of LGBTQ+ rights groups, began in September with witness evidence on both sides.

On Tuesday (8 November), LGB Alliance counsel Karon Monaghan presented the group’s submissions to the tribunal.

Mermaids argues in its case that LGB Alliance does not comply with 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”.

In the submission, Monaghan laid out why LGB Alliance believes it does provide “recognised benefits” to “a sufficient section of the public”, and claimed that “a large number, perhaps most” LGB people “share LGB Alliance’s beliefs”.

She said that the group’s “objects are clear and unambiguous”, and insisted: “LGB Alliance are involved in a considerable amount of work that has nothing to do with trans rights at all. Most of its work has nothing to do with trans rights at all.”

She added that the objectives of human rights, equality and diversity were “so manifestly beneficial to the public that it would be absurd to call evidence”.

Mermaids also says that LGB Alliance’s stated charitable objectives – to work for the human rights of LGB people – are completely at odds with what it actually does in practice, claiming that the group’s main goal is to inhibit trans rights.

But Monaghan accused Mermaids of “relying on conspiracy” and “redrafting” LGB Alliance’s objectives.

In her closing arguments, she told the tribunal: “Mermaids’ evidence insinuates conspiracy… their documents and witnesses speak of ‘hidden messages’, ‘agendas’, ‘a front to take away trans rights’, ‘transphobia’ and setting ‘out to deceive the Charity Commission about the true nature of their activities’.

“Mermaids stigmatises LGB Alliance’s use of terms such as ‘sexual orientation’, ‘sex-based rights’ and ‘lesbian, gay and bisexual people’ which, it is said, ‘are used to signal a particular position on trans rights in a way that is not obvious to the casual reader’.

“This is deeply offensive to LGB Alliance’s founders and profoundly homophobic – it is again the love that cannot speak its name and it pushes LGB people who identify as same-sex attracted back in the closet if that stigma is to be avoided.

“Any expressed anxieties on the part of LGB Alliance about the approach of Mermaids are well founded and certainly not borne out of some hidden conspiracy.” 

Throughout the hearings, LGB Alliance has argued that Mermaids has no legal standing to bring the appeal, as to do so it must show that it “is or may be affected by the decision” of the Charity Commission to register the group as a charity.

On Monday (8 November), Mermaids’ counsel Michael Gibbon said that the trans kids’ charity was on LGB Alliance’s “hit list” as it believes it to be part of the “gender identity lobby”.

In response to LGB Alliance’s accusations, Gibbon suggested that Monaghan’s accusations had been somewhat of an own-goal: “In her closing words, in her accusations of ‘profound homophobia’, we say that does play into what we have suggested is an approach that LGB Alliance takes to the case, which is to seek to amplify part of that wider debate.

“Clearly, we reject that label, but for the purposes of today we note, with respect, it does in fact support the submissions we’ve already made about the nature of purposes and objectives of LGB Alliance.”

The tribunal has not said when its judgement will be issued, only that it will be in “due course”.

Lawyers for both charities agreed that even if the tribunal finds that Mermaids did not have legal standing to bring the case, it should still issue a judgement on the concerns raised in the case.