Edinburgh Rape Crisis Centre worker Roz Adams wins tribunal over ‘gender-critical’ beliefs

An employee at Edinburgh Rape Crisis Centre was unfairly constructively dismissed for her "gender critical" views

A woman who worked at Edinburgh Rape Crisis Centre was unfairly constructively dismissed because of her “gender-critical” beliefs, an employment tribunal has ruled.

The tribunal found Roz Adams, who worked at the Edinburgh Rape Crisis Centre, was unlawfully discriminated against for believing that service users should be able to know the “biological sex” of staff members, the BBC reported.

Management at the Edinburgh Rape Crisis Centre, known as a trans-inclusive centre, launched a disciplinary process against Adams, 52, after she asked how to respond to a service user who wanted to know whether a non-binary staff member “was a man or a woman”. 

Adams was advised against disclosing any details because of staff privacy. Managers added that the centre did not employ men, the tribunal heard. She was alleged to have responded by saying the issue appeared to be a “minefield”.

The following month, Adams was invited to an investigation meeting around “potentially transphobic” views, with a disciplinary process launched later. Allegations of misconduct were upheld but, although no action was taken, Adams chose to resign.

The tribunal found the investigation should not have been launched because it “was clearly motivated by a strong belief [among] senior management and some of the claimant’s colleagues that the claimant’s views were inherently hateful”, and the centre’s chief executive, trans woman Mridul Wadhwa, appeared to believe that Adams was transphobic.

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Wadhwa was “the invisible hand behind everything that had taken place”, the tribunal ruled. In addition, it was “nonsense” to suggest any emails sent by Adams were transphobic.

Employment judge Ian McFatridge said the disciplinary process used against Adams was “reminiscent of the work of Franz Kafka”, the 20th-century writer whose books often include absurd situations and instances of anxiety and alienation.

Rape Crisis Scotland has now commissioned an independent review into practices at its Edinburgh centre. 

“We believe it is important that survivors can make informed choices about the services they can access at rape crisis centres,” Sandy Brindley, the chief executive of Rape Crisis Scotland, said. 

“We know it is important for some survivors to have a choice over the sex or gender of their worker.”

Edinburgh Rape Crisis Centre said that it was “fully supportive” of Rape Crisis Scotland’s review, claiming it will “help ensure our practices and procedures meet the highest standards”. 

Who is Roz Adams?

Roz Adams joined the rape crisis centre as a counselling and support worker in February 2021. The tribunal heard that she was “supportive of trans people” and felt positive about the centre’s trans-inclusive policies. 

In the months that followed, she reportedly began to take issue with how the centre dealt with “gender issues”, describing the atmosphere as “eggshelly”. 

The tribunal noted that Adams’ view was that biological sex is binary, and “everyone is either male or female at that level”, and that service users should be able to choose their support workers based on biological sex. 

“Her belief was that [while] in most circumstances the distinction between biological sex and gender identity did not matter, in a service dealing with sexual violence, the respondent should be honest and clear when asked to give a clear and unambiguous answer in order to provide that service users give informed consent,” the tribunal stated.

People had been “fearful” of talking about gender identity, and that those who spoke to the centre about gender were “classed as bigots”, Adams claimed.

After the ruling Adams told the BBC: “For me it was dystopian, it was the strangest experience. I’ve never come across any other topic where to ask to talk about it and to find solutions that work for everybody is seen as hateful.”

She is believed to now be working for Beira’s Place, a cisgender-women-only support service for victims of sexual violence, founded by author JK Rowling, who described Adams as “a person of bravery, integrity and compassion”, on Twitter/X

Who is Mridul Wadhwa?

Mridul Wadhwa, 46, is a women’s rights activist and Edinburgh Rape Crisis Centre’s chief executive. She previously worked at Forth Valley Rape Crisis Centre, in Stirling. 

She has previously spoken out against anti-trans talking points, such as banning transgender women from single-sex spaces. 

“The threat to single-sex spaces, if there is any… is from men,” she said in 2020, “and they don’t need to enter single-sex spaces to be harmful to women and girls.”

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