SNP’s John Nicolson questions ‘disturbing’ decision on LGB Alliance charity status

SNP MP John Nicolson

SNP MP John Nicolson has written to the Charity Commissioner for England, criticising the “disturbing” decision to allow anti-trans organisation the LGB Alliance to retain its charity status.

After a tribunal on Thursday (6 July), it was ruled that the LGB Alliance will remain a registered charity, following a legal challenge by trans youth charity Mermaids.

Mermaids argued the group shouldn’t be recognised as a charity because it “exclusively focuses” on anti-trans campaigning, and not on the promotion of lesbian, gay and bisexual rights as it claims to, and that it did not comply with two key criteria for charitable status under the Charities Act 2011. 

The tribunal ruled, however, that Mermaids did not have legal standing to challenge the Charity Commission’s decision to recognise the LGB Alliance.

The tribunal said: “We are conscious that this case was regarded by some as being about the rights of gender diverse people or about the rights of gay, lesbian and bisexual people, but it is not; the focus of this decision is upon a small part of the Charities Act 2011 and what it means, applied in the circumstances of this case.”

Nicholson, who gave evidence during the tribunal hearing, wrote to the Charity Commissioner for England on Friday (7 July) over the ruling, criticising the LGB Alliance’s “history of abusive behaviour” and questioning whether it should remain a charity. 

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Nicolson tweeted out the letter, which read: “In theory, my disagreement with the Alliance is over policy; I am an openly gay man, a member of the LGBT+ community, and a supporter of GRA (Gender Recognition Act) reform.

“Support for this modest reform, already passed by many of our European neighbours, has resulted in the Alliance tweeting that I am a ‘misogynist’, a ‘homophobe’, ‘woman-hating’ and ‘rape-enabling’.” 

Nicolson added that LGB Alliance had previously retweeted offensive comments about him due to his support for the trans community and reforms to the Gender Recognition Act.

“I can think of no other charity which would behave in this sinister and disturbing way,” he wrote.

“Being on the receiving end of the Alliance’s venom is unpleasant for me as a politician, but I’m infinitely more concerned about the traumatic effect its activities have on one of the most vulnerable groups in society: trans people.”

The LGB Alliance was created by co-founders Bev Jackson, Kate Harris, Allison Bailey, Malcolm Clark and Ann Sinnott, and describes itself as an organisation committed to “freedom of speech and biological definitions of sex”.

The organisation applied for charity status in 2020, a year after its formation in 2019.

A petition published on 29 March 2020 supporting an appeal against its charity status appointment reached over 44,000 signatures.

Ahead of the organisation receiving charity status, Nicolson campaigned against the group being granted it, describing the LGB Alliance as “sinister” and “abusive”.

“I call the LGB Alliance sinister because it is. It’s milking the gullible for cash by claiming it is championing gay rights. Under no circumstances should they get charitable status. The Charity Commission should take one look at its abusive tweets,” he explained.

After the ruling, the LGB Alliance said: “We are delighted that the tribunal found in our favour and that Mermaids and the LGBT Consortium have failed in their bid to remove our charitable status.”

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