LGB Alliance retains charity status on technicality, but that doesn’t mean it won

Outside view of London's 55 Tufton Street with LGB Alliance and trans Pride flags flying in front

The LGB Alliance will remain a charity after a tribunal dismissed a legal challenge to its status – but the ruling was far from a win for the anti-trans group.

A tribunal dismissed a challenge to the LGB Alliance’s charitable status on Thursday (6 July), brought by trans youth charity Mermaids and supported by a coalition LGBTQ+ groups.

Mermaids argued the group shouldn’t be recognised as a charity because of it ‘exclusively focuses’ on anti-trans campaigning and not on the promotion of lesbian, gay and bisexual rights.

The tribunal declined to consider this argument, as it found Mermaids does not have legal standing to challenge the Charity Commission’s decision to recognise the LGB Alliance.

Though it may be painted as such, the ruling is not a win or a vindication for the LGB Alliance. The ‘gender-critical’ group escaped judgement on a technicality.

In its ruling, the tribunal stated that its two-person panel was split on the issue of whether the LGB Alliance is rightfully a charity. It declined to make a hypothetical conclusion on the issue.

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The tribunal also noted that the Charity Commission was seen to have concerns regarding the LGB Alliance going “beyond the boundaries of civilised debate”, and said these concerns “were well-founded”.

For now, the LGB Alliance will continue to operate in the same manner. But the case has brought important scrutiny to the group, and seems likely to inspire a broader push for change.

SNP MP John Nicholson, who gave evidence during the tribunal hearing, told PinkNews that the judges ruled that “charities can’t challenge other charities’ status”, which shows that “we need a change in the law”.

“The sinister so called ‘LGB Alliance’ should never have been granted charitable status. And the judges have been brutal about it,” he said.

“They’ve highlighted the abuse the Alliance send online. And they’ve highlighted the way in which the Alliance targets trans people especially young trans people. It’s a thorough disreputable organisation.”

While Mermaids was unsuccessful in its challenge, it said it was “glad to have been able to shine a light on the harmful nature of LGBA’s activities and the need for ongoing scrutiny”. 

On Twitter, Trans Activism UK pointed out on Twitter that the “judges opted not to provide their views on whether or not the LGB Alliance should have charity status but did mention that one judge was for it and one was against it”. 

“The LGB Alliance has been labelled a ‘far-right hate group’ in Ireland, which we believe to be accurate and the UK has shown itself to be incompetent in not following this example,” the group wrote.

“An unfathomable amount of individuals and organisations have lodged complaints with [the Charity Commission] regarding the LGB Alliance’s repeatedly hateful and dangerous behaviour, so we believe that they have failed to do their due diligence in reviewing these complaints.

“Whilst it is an important issue that a hate group has charity status, we also believe that our time, energy, and resources are better spent addressing the more pressing issues facing the trans community day-to-day, such as inaccessible healthcare.”

Trans Safety Network – a grassroots group that monitors attacks on the trans community, including those perpetuated by the LGBA – said it is “closely monitoring the evolving legal situation for trans people in the United Kingdom, including the state protection of tax benefits for trans rights abusers”. 

“There are a number of harmful anti-trans organisations (including those which promote conversion therapy and psychological abuse of trans people) which have charitable status,” a spokesperson said. 

“Charitable status doesn’t, in itself, justify the legitimacy of a given organisation’s mission. We will be publishing a more thorough legal comment on the implications of the ruling when time allows.”

LGB Alliance has a damning history of attacking the trans community and advocates for trans rights

To register as a charity under the Charities Act 2011, an organisation must, at its heart, be charitable. It must benefit people and not inherently harm them. 

This includes charities promoting human rights, equality and diversity by eliminating discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation, sex or age. 

The LGB Alliance will argue this is what it does – at tribunal, it insisted it supports the lesbian, gay and bisexual community – but the organisation has an egregious and lengthy history of vehement hostility directed towards trans people. Meanwhile, there is no record of it providing any meaningful supports to LGB people.

The LGB Alliance was founded in 2019 to oppose what it calls ‘gender ideology’. Founder Bev Jackson said in 2020 that she was “building an organisation to challenge the dominance of those who promote the damaging theory of gender identity”.

The organisation has similarly used anti-trans dog whistle claims that LGB people’s “interests” are “under threat” by the alleged “confusion between biological sex and the notion of gender”. 

The group – which has offices located at London’s 55 Tufton Street, an infamous epicentre of right-wing lobby groups and pro-Brexit think tanks – denies it is transphobic.

But queer rights activists, LGBTQ+ organisations, political figures and more have called it a ‘hate group’.

An activist holds a transgender pride flag at a protest by Transgender Action Block and supporters outside the first annual conference of the LGB Alliance at the Queen Elizabeth II Centre on 21st October 2021.
An activist holds a transgender pride flag at a protest by Transgender Action Block and supporters outside the first annual conference of the LGB Alliance at the Queen Elizabeth II Centre on 21st October 2021. (Mark Kerrison/In Pictures via Getty)

The LGB Alliance has referred to trans women as “males ‘identifying as females’”, opposed gender recognition reform in Scotland, once denied the existence of LGB children and compared LGBTQ+ inclusion to bestiality

The group has argued against a trans-inclusive ban on conversion therapy, a pseudoscientific and traumatic practice that’s been discredited by healthcare organisations worldwide, in the UK. 

Instead, it argued that banning conversion therapy for trans people would make it “illegal for psychotherapists to do their job”

At tribunal, the LGB Alliance argued that it hadn’t got around to helping LGB people because of limited resources and because accusations of it being a “hate group” made it difficult to get funding.

After the ruling, the group’s solicitor said: ““We are pleased that the tribunal has agreed with our primary case that Mermaids never had standing to bring this appeal in the first place.  Our clients have been put through two years of stressful and unnecessary litigation.  We look forward to them now being able to put this behind them and turn their full attentions towards their important charitable work in support of lesbian, gay and bisexual people.”