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On Thursday 11 April, we were made aware that the Charity Commission has allegedly liked and reposted gender-critical content on its official X account, including potentially defamatory content about Mermaids. 

In response to an email from us, the Commission confirmed that this appears to have been accidental activity during monitoring. We recognise that accidents do happen, however vigilance is required to ensure that these are addressed as soon as possible.

As a public body, the Commission must appear to be scrupulously independent and unbiased across its work, including its activity on social media, and it is disappointing that it has taken approaches by outside parties for these accidents to be resolved. 

We welcome the reassurance that the Commission is exploring additional safeguards to prevent a recurrence, however, during a particularly difficult time for the trans community following the release of The Cass Review, we remain concerned at the potential impact of such mistakes on trans children and young people who, instead of being treated with compassion and respect, are seeing their experiences invalidated and questioned across the media and platforms such as X. 

We look forward to an apology from the Commission for the potential impacts of these mistakes, and additional assurance for those charities working in areas at the centre of highly politicised discussion that there will be no recurrence.

We were back in court today for the final day of the hearing of Mermaids versus the Charity Commission regarding the charitable status of LGB Alliance. 

The day began with submissions from Karon Monaghan KC, representing LGBA. She addressed the charitable objects of LGBA as set out in its Articles of Association, which she argued were “clear and unambiguous”, suggesting that there was no need to look beyond the words on the page.

She argued that LGBA is involved in a lot of work that has nothing to do with trans rights and that while the group engages in political lobbying, this is done to advance its charitable aims.

Ms Monaghan re-emphasised Iain Steele’s submission from yesterday that the public benefits from a debate between charities with differing views, and argued that Mermaids has no standing to bring the case.

We then moved to the final reply from Michael Gibbon KC, representing Mermaids. He again submitted that the Tribunal could and should look beyond the words on the page in order to interpret LGBA’s objects, which Mermaids say are not properly charitable and for the public benefit.

Mr Gibbon submitted that there is no basis in law for the proposition that debate or conflict between two organisations is in itself in the public interest.

He repeated that Mermaids does have standing to bring the case, but invited the Tribunal to make findings on the other issues in the case whatever its decision on standing. Ms Monaghan supported this submission.

Iain Steele for the Charity Commission, however, requested that if Mermaids is found not to have standing, the Tribunal stop there and not make further findings.

The Tribunal gave no indication of when we can expect a judgment, but given the complexity of the issues we anticipate a wait of at least several weeks, likely months. We will keep you updated.

Notes to editors

1. Read the appeal grounds in full as filed here as well as the supporting documentsskeleton argument and witness statements for Paul RobertsJohn Nicolson MP and Dr Belinda Bell, as well as counsel’s speaking note. [Please note unconfirmed references in the speaking note relate to a pending Tribunal transcript from the previous hearing]. 

2. Mermaids is a UK-wide charity (registered charity number 1160575) supporting transgender, non-binary and gender-diverse children, young people, their families and professionals involved in their care. Our goal is to create a world where gender-diverse children and young people can be themselves and thrive. Services include a helpline, web chat and online forums for parents and young people, as well as face-to-face meet-ups for peer support. We also provide training to organisations and advocate for a fairer society for trans young people.

3. The appeal is being supported by a number of leading organisations, including Good Law Project, the LGBT+ ConsortiumLGBT FoundationGendered Intelligence and TransActual.

4. This appeal is being crowdfunded.

5. Any media enquiries should be directed to [email protected].

The Tribunal has agreed to hear our arguments as to why the LGB so-called Alliance (LGBA) should not have been given charitable status. This means we, as the main claimant in the case, will have the opportunity to present the full facts as to why LGBA’s activities are not those of a charity. The hearing will take place in May 2022.

The LGBA wanted a separate hearing to determine whether or not we had what’s called “legal standing” – whether we could bring the claim at all. We believe they wanted to close the conversation without having to properly explain themselves. We said that this would only have duplicated work in the long-run, and the Tribunal agreed. The LGBA will still get to argue that our claim lacks standing, but only as part of the wider hearing. 

To be registered as a charity, an organisation must be established exclusively for purposes which the law recognises as charitable, and it must pursue them in a way which gives rise to tangible benefits that outweigh any associated harms. We don’t believe that the legal threshold has been met. 

We welcome a full hearing. A spokesperson for Mermaids said: “We are pleased that the Tribunal has made the decision that there will be one hearing that deals with everything. We look forward to the hearing where the LGB Alliance will have to explain themselves. 

“To be registered as a charity, an organisation must be established exclusively for charitable purposes. LGB Alliance does not stand for LGB rights, but exists to divide our community and denigrate trans people and those who support them.”

In addition to our grounds of appeal, we have now submitted two replies, one to the Charity Commission and now one to LGB Alliance

We are hugely grateful for your support so far. If you are able to make a donation to the CrowdJustice fundraiser backing our appeal, you can do so here.

Notes to editors

2. Mermaids is a UK-wide charity (registered charity number 1160575) working to support transgender, non-binary and gender-diverse children, young people, their families and the professionals who support them. Our goal is to create a world where gender-diverse children and young people can be themselves and thrive. Services include a helpline, web chat and online forums for parents and young people, as well as face-to-face meet-ups for peer support. We also provide training into organisations and advocate for a fairer society for trans young people.

3. The appeal is being supported by a number of leading organisations, including Good Law Project, the LGBT+ Consortium, LGBT Foundation, Gendered Intelligence and TransActual.

4. This appeal is being crowdfunded.

5. Any media enquiries should be directed to [email protected].

An appeal by Mermaids, supported by Good Law Project and LGBT+ Consortium, along with other leading UK LGBTQIA+ charities, against the decision to award charity status to the LGB Alliance, has had its timetable to trial set out.

The directions order from the Tribunal sets out the next steps for the case to trial. The key points in the order are that:

  • LGB Alliance is now a respondent to the appeal, along with the Charity Commission.
  • The hearing is to take place between March and May 2022 (date to be confirmed).

The decision earlier this year by the Charity Commission to award the controversial group charitable status was met with anger from the LGBTQIA+ community and beyond.

To be registered as a charity, an organisation must be established exclusively for charitable purposes, as recognised in law, and pursue them in a manner which gives rise to tangible benefits and which outweigh any associated harms. 

LGB Alliance’s behaviour does not fit these criteria and they are not who they say they are. It is our belief that they do not stand for LGB rights, but exist to divide our community and denigrate those who support trans people. 

That is why, with the support of leading charities LGBT+ Consortium, Gendered Intelligence, LGBT Foundation and TransActual, Mermaids lodged an appeal, crowdfunded by Good Law Project, on the grounds that LGB Alliance is not a charity. 

Charity exists for public good and LGBA doesn’t offer this

Lui Asquith, Director of Legal and Policy

Lui Asquith, Director of Legal and Policy at Mermaids, said: “Young trans people and children are facing unprecedented scrutiny and scepticism. Much of it is and has been fuelled by an anti-gender movement that is sweeping around the globe, which has money and a platform and insists on pushing an erroneous hierarchy of rights. By its nature it rejects the rights – and in some cases, existence – of trans people.

“LGB Alliance purports to be an organisation that supports lesbian, gay and bisexual people, but it doesn’t. Many trans people are LGB and LGBA actively work to oppose the advancement of rights of trans individuals. 

“It pushes transphobic messages – through the frame of being a ‘LGB support organisation’ – to people in power; they are contributing to the horrendous cultivation of fear-mongering in respect of trans people in this country as well as creating a harmful and incorrect idea that cis-women’s rights are at odds with trans people.

“Mermaids, together with LGBT+ organisations, believe it is not fair on the public to have their donations used to carry out such cruel work – many people who donate to them may not even know their anti-trans rights activity. They are saying one thing and doing another. That isn’t fair.

“It is our view that their work is not only actively hurting LGBT+ people, but people as a whole. Biological essentialism limits everyone – it demands social expectations and denies the freedom to be who you are. 

“We are taking this action to ensure we do not regress as a country – make no mistake, the LGBA registration was a regression – and we are taking this action to show that the LGBT+ community will not be divided. 

“We as a collective will do what we can to ensure organisations that have other motives do not attain the credibility of being a charity. 

“Charity exists for public good and LGBA doesn’t offer this.”

A spokesperson for LGBT+ Consortium said: “Registered charities are an important institution for creating positive social and cultural change. It is vital that inclusive LGBT+ organisations can highlight the damaging effect registering those with non-charitable aims can have on real people’s lives.

“We are grateful to Mermaids for being at the forefront of this case. Consortium will continue to support and stand alongside them at every stage of this crucial case when it is heard by the Tribunal.”

A spokesperson for LGBT Foundation said: “LGBT Foundation is one of many LGBTQ+ charities that celebrate our diverse community with integrity and respect. We exist to promote unity and help people live safer and happier lives.

“We cannot emphasise enough the impact that trans and non-binary people have made on LGBT equality. LGBT Foundation oppose rhetoric and ideologies that encourage separation, discrimination and elicit long-term injustice to people in our community.

“We are indebted to Mermaids for their leadership in this case and look forward to it going to the Tribunal.”

The next significant milestone in the case will be 8 October 2021, the date by which LGB Alliance, as a respondent, is required to set out its legal case in full. Mermaids and the Commission will then have the opportunity to make further submissions in response. 

We will keep you updated as the case progresses. Your support in the meantime is much appreciated.

Notes to editors

2. Mermaids is a UK-wide charity (registered charity number 1160575) working to support transgender, non-binary and gender-diverse children, young people, their families and the professionals who support them. Our goal is to create a world where gender-diverse children and young people can be themselves and thrive. Services include a helpline, web chat and online forums for parents and young people, as well as face-to-face meet-ups for peer support. We also provide training into organisations and advocate for a fairer society for trans young people.

3. LGBT+ Consortium is the national umbrella body for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans+ voluntary and community organisations in the UK. It has a membership of over 500 diverse LGBT+ organisations and they work to support a proactively collaborative LGBT+ sector that benefits the diverse communities it serves. 

4. Good Law Project is a not for profit that uses the law for a better world. We fight cases that protect the interests of the public. We had a primary role in overturning the prorogation of Parliament two years ago and more recently have been shining a bright light on Government’s award of PPE contracts and jobs to their friends and associates. 

5. LGBT Foundation is a national charity delivering advice, support and information services to lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans communities. With a history dating back to 1975, they campaign for a fair and equal society where all LGBT people can achieve their full potential. Through their services, they reduce isolation amongst LGBT communities, help people feel more confident and in control of their lives and enable people to flourish. Together with LGBT communities and their supporters, LGBT Foundation is working to secure a safe, healthy and equal future for all LGBT people.

6. This appeal is being crowdfunded.