Department of Health is now the latest public entity to DITCH Stonewall. This follows claims that trans charity’s advice to NHS about gender identity ‘risked patient lives’

  • Since comments from its chief executive, Stonewall has been at the centre of controversy
  • Nancy Kelley claimed ‘gender critical’ beliefs – were like anti-Semitism
  • The Department of Health is now closed.
  • Channel 4, Ofsted, Ministry of Justice, and the BBC have all abandoned the scheme

The Department of Health has dropped a controversial diversity program run by Stonewall LGBT charity. This is the latest group to walk out of the initiative.

It is after Ofcom, Equality and Human Rights Commission and other quit the scheme.

Channel 4, Ofsted and the Ministry of Justice have all dropped the paid plan.

Stonewall offers advice on creating an inclusive workplace for LGBT workers through the Diversity Champions program. Companies can sign up to this program and pay for it.

But it was embroiled in controversy after Stonewall’s chief executive Nancy Kelley claimed ‘gender critical’ beliefs – the belief that a person’s biological sex cannot be changed – were like anti-Semitism.

Matthew Parris was a journalist and ex-MP who co-founded the group in 1989.

Earlier this year Kate Grimes, a former chief executive of Kingston Hospital in South-West London, called for organisations to withdraw from the Stonewall scheme.

In an article for Health Service Journal, she wrote: ‘I believe working with Stonewall is no longer compatible with NHS values and risks the reputation of the NHS and safety of our patients and staff.

At least eight major organisations have left the Stonewall group's controversial scheme

At least eight major organizations have resigned from the Stonewall group’s controversial scheme

Stonewall's Diversity Champions is a programme where companies sign up and pay for advice from Stonewall on how to create an inclusive environment for LGBT workers

Stonewall’s Diversity Champion program is where companies can sign up and pay Stonewall for advice on how to create an inclusive workplace for LGBT workers

‘Hospital workers are losing their rights, enshrined in law, to separate bathroom and changing facilities. Anyone who speaks up may face disciplinary action, as policies are brought into line with Stonewall’s view.’ 

The Department of Health stated that the program was being stopped due to financial concerns.

A spokeswoman said: “Last year we conducted a full assessment of all our diversity and inclusion memberships and Stonewall was one of those we decided to not renew.

‘We informed Stonewall of our decision in October 2021.”

Ofcom is believed to have been concerned about its relationship with Stonewall through this scheme. This could jeopardize its reputation.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission decided to terminate its membership earlier in the year, stating that it was not the best value for money. 

The image was presented as part of an internal BBC course in conjunction with the lobby group. It depicts sexuality as a spectrum. Gender identity is defined as “how you think about yourself”.

Stonewall's Nancy Kelley claimed 'gender critical' beliefs – were like anti-Semitism

Stonewall’s Nancy Kelley claimed ‘gender critical’ beliefs – were like anti-Semitism

Ofcom sources said that it had now “laid the foundations” to support LGBT colleagues and was confident that it could “move forward positively” outside of the Stonewall scheme.

However, it will remain in the charity’s Workplace Equality Index. This is a benchmark for employers.

The BBC is also believed to have withdrawn from the scheme.

It was revealed that the broadcaster used Stonewall material to create a controversial graphic depicting a ‘genderbread man’ graphic for equality training.

Nolan Investigates, a podcast hosted by Stephen Nolan, discovered that the image was presented as part of an internal BBC course in conjunction with the lobby group.

The graphic of the ‘genderbread man’ depicts sex as a spectrum. It defines gender identity as “how you think about yourself”. Despite these ideas being contested, it was apparently shown to BBC staff.

A spokesperson for BBC said that the BBC acts independently in all aspects, from HR policy to editorial guidelines.

“We aim for industry-leading workforce inclusion and seek advice from a variety of external organisations. However, the final decision on any BBC practices or policies is made by us.

We do not accept legal advice from Stonewall, and we don’t subscribe to Stonewall’s campaigns. The charity provides only advice that we are able consider.

‘As a broadcaster, we have our own values and editorial standards – these are clearly set out and published in our Editorial Guidelines. We are also bound by the Ofcom Broadcasting Code and the Royal Charter.