Transgender rights organisations have strongly criticised a decision to award give an “anti-trans” group with links to the Christian right charitable status, entitling it to tax exemptions in the UK.
The Charities Commission announced this week it would be providing the LGB Alliance, a group that was founded in opposition to LGBTQ rights charity Stonewall advocating for trans people, charitable status as, “Its purposes are to promote equality and diversity and human rights.”
The commission says that it received numerous complaints regarding the application for the LGB Alliance to receive charitable status which were taken into account during the decision.
“It is not the Commission’s role to make value judgements about the aims or ideas put forward by any organisation,” a statement said. “Instead, its role is to decide whether an organisation’s purposes fall within the legal definition of charity.”
The commission also said it would pay careful attention to whether the LGB Alliance abided by the criteria of its charitable status, such as not “demeaning or denigrating the rights of others, including on social media.”
Charitable status in the UK allows an organisation to receive tax exemptions on its income, providing that the income is used for charitable means only.
Nancy Kelley, CEO of Stonewall, said: “It is upsetting to see that an organisation who were founded to oppose our work towards trans rights have been granted status as a registered charity. However, the Charity Commission is clear in its statement that it will not tolerate any demeaning or denigrating of the rights of others, including on social media. All registered charities are regulated and held accountable for their actions by the Charity Commission, and from today, this will include the LGB Alliance.”
Mermaids, a charity supporting trans children, expressed anger at the decision.
“We are deeply disturbed by the Charity Commission’s decision,” a spokesperson for the charity said. “Giving a divisive and polarising anti-trans campaign group such as the LGB Alliance a supposed mark of legitimacy brings into question the Charity Commission’s processes.”
“We strongly challenge the suggestion that the LGB Alliance stands for the promotion of equality, diversity and human rights when it actively seeks to exclude transgender and gender-diverse people from the LGBTQ+ movement,” they continued. “We consider this decision by the Charity Commission to be a reckless and damaging act of betrayal to transgender and gender-diverse people and our allies.”
The LGB alliance was founded in 2019 by Bev Jackson and Kate Harris, in opposition to Stonewall’s support for trans rights as part of its campaigning. The LGB Alliance denies that it is anti-trans as an organisation, writing on its website “We fully support trans people in their struggle, for dignity, respect and a life lived free from bigotry and fear. We don’t hate trans people and we don’t wish to see them erased.”
The group garnered criticism, however, for its links to the Christian right and anti-abortion groups, according to Pink News.
On its website, the group does not deny its funding could come from the Christian right, but states that it is an organisation made up of many small donations. It is yet to publish donations details.
VICE World News reached out to the LGB Alliance, who said, “We welcome the Charity Commission’s decision today and we are keen to get on with our charitable aims of advancing the interests of LGB people.”