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In June 2021, Mermaids, supported by a coalition of LGBT+ organisations, appealed the decision by the Charity Commission to register LGB Alliance (LGBA) as a charity. We argued that LGBA shouldn’t be recognised as a charity because it was focused on hostile anti-trans activism and not (as it claimed) on the promotion of lesbian, gay and bisexual rights. 

The hearing took place over seven days in September and November 2022, and the Tribunal handed down its decision on Thursday 6 July 2023.

Their decision is that Mermaids doesn’t have legal standing to bring the appeal. Standing in this context is not well-defined, and we always knew this was a complex aspect of the case.

Because they found against us on standing, the Tribunal didn’t have to rule on the main issue in the appeal – namely whether or not LGBA should have been registered as a charity to begin with. 

But the two judges indicated that they had given that question careful consideration and had been split on the answer. That is, one of the judges agreed with us that LGBA should not have been registered as a charity, and one disagreed. 

We don’t know the details of their reasoning, but we think that is a really significant outcome. Had we been found to have standing, there is a chance that the tie would have been resolved in our favour and we would have won the case. 

That puts a huge question mark over LGBA’s status. In addition, key points of our evidence about LGBA were accepted by both judges. They agreed with us that some of LGBA’s output on social media went beyond the boundaries of civilised debate, and they accepted our evidence that LGBA had progressed the “pro-LGB” activities it claims to be focused on “only to a limited extent”. They suggested that a combination of public scrutiny and oversight by the Charity Commission would “deter LGBA from crossing the line” in future.

We are glad to have been able to shine a light on the harmful nature of LGBA’s activities and the need for ongoing scrutiny, and we are pleased that one of the judges accepted our evidence that LGBA should never have been registered as a charity. But we are disappointed that the Tribunal wasn’t able to go further.

If we don’t meet the test for standing in this case, it is hard to imagine that anyone could have done. In effect, that means that the decision to register LGBA as a charity cannot be challenged by a third party, even though the judgment confirms that there are serious doubts over whether LGBA should have charitable status. 

We are taking legal advice on whether to appeal the finding on standing. In the meantime, our focus remains on channelling all of our energies into the urgent, critical challenges facing trans young people today. This includes demanding access to timely healthcare and robustly challenging forthcoming trans guidance for schools which, if reports are true, could have devastating consequences not only for trans children and young people, but any young person who doesn’t conform to gender norms.

Thank you to everyone who has supported our case, and to all those who continue to stand up for trans young people in an increasingly hostile climate. We are grateful for the support and solidarity of the LGBTQ+ community and LGBTQ+ organisations across the UK and globally, who resist attempts to divide our community. Together, we can create a better world to grow up trans. 

Frequently asked questions

What is “standing”?

In legal terms, “standing” means whether the person (or organisation) bringing a claim has the right to do so. In this case, the question was whether Mermaids had been “directly affected” by the Charity Commission’s decision to register LGBA as a charity. “Directly affected” is not defined in the relevant statute (the Charities Act 2011) so it is open to interpretation in different ways.


In 2021, LGBA asked for a separate preliminary hearing to determine whether or not Mermaids had standing. We argued that the issue of standing was inextricably linked to our broader points about LGBA’s activities, and the Tribunal agreed, which is why the matter of standing was decided as part of a full hearing looking at all the issues together. 

Why did the judges find that Mermaids doesn’t have standing?

The Tribunal didn’t consider that LGBA’s attacks on Mermaids, and their attempts to undermine our reputation, amounted to the kind of “direct affect” that is required by the Charities Act 2011. They also concluded that, because many of LGBA’s criticisms of Mermaids had pre-dated LGBA’s registration as a charity, the decision to register LGBA was not in itself the cause of the impact – indeed they thought that it might have reduced the impact, by constraining LGBA’s conduct.

Why haven’t the judges ruled on whether LGBA should have been registered as a charity?

We and LGBA had asked the judges to consider setting out their conclusions on whether or not LGBA is a charity, even if they decided that Mermaids didn’t have standing to bring the case. The judges, however, were unable to reach agreement on whether or not LGBA is a charity. There is a mechanism for resolving “ties”, but it didn’t need to be used because the judges had already agreed that we didn’t have standing. They therefore didn’t think it was necessary or appropriate to set out their respective conclusions on this issue.

What does this mean for Mermaids? 

This decision has no reflection on Mermaids, the work we do or the people that we exist for. We will continue to focus on providing the highest quality support to trans, non-binary and gender diverse children and young people, their families and the important people in their lives, and to making the world a better place to grow up trans.

Will you appeal the decision?

We are taking legal advice on a possible appeal.

What happens now? 

Mermaids will continue to focus on the critical, urgent challenges which trans young people and their families have told us they’re experiencing. This includes accessing healthcare, being safe and affirmed at school, and living their lives with dignity and respect.

Notes to editors

1. Mermaids is a registered charity in England and Wales (charity number 1160575) supporting transgender, non-binary and gender-diverse children, young people and their families. We aim to create a world where gender-diverse children and young people can be themselves and thrive.

3. The appeal was supported by a number of organisations, including Good Law Project and LGBT+ Consortium.

4. The appeal was crowdfunded.

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

Thank you to everyone who has supported our challenge to the charitable status of the LGB Alliance.

As outlined previously, the case is a complex one, but we believe we have presented a strong case and are grateful for the opportunity to have made our arguments in full at tribunal last year.

The hearing transcripts are now available to download below.

Thank you for continuing to stand with us as we await a judgement in this case.

Notes to editors

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 has been supported by a number of leading organisations, including Good Law Project and LGBT+ Consortium.

4. This challenge has been crowdfunded.

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

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].

Today was the first day of our resumed hearing in the case of Mermaids vs Charity Commission, and we began with submissions from Michael Gibbon KC on behalf of Mermaids.

He submitted that LGBA is, in the words of co-founder Bev Jackson, “an organisation to challenge the dominance of those promoting the damaging theory of gender identity”. Mr Gibbon also outlined Mermaids’ standing to bring the case.

We then moved on to submissions from Iain Steele, representing the Charity Commission. Mr Steele made submissions on the relevant law, and suggested that the standing test should be applied narrowly.

We’ll be back in court at 10am tomorrow for the final day of the hearing, when we will hear from LGBA’s lawyers, and our lawyers will give their final reply. 

Notes to editors

1. Read the appeal grounds in full as filed here as well as the supporting documents, skeleton argument and witness statements for Paul Roberts, John 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].

Day 5 concluded the witness evidence of the LGB Alliance (LGBA). Continuing with co-founder Kate Harris, the barrister for Mermaids questioned her on the articles of association of the LGBA, as well as her understanding of definitions surrounding same-sex attraction. 

Mermaids’ barrister then questioned her on the activities of the LGBA after the granting of their charitable status and the nature of their public communications. 

We then moved on to the witness evidence of Eileen Gallagher, the chair of the board of trustees of LGBA. This focused on the activities of LGBA, namely hosting their conference as well as other events and the setting up of support groups, webinars, newsletters and a helpline. 

It has now been decided that there will be an adjournment before the barristers will make their arguments on the law as they do not feel they have enough time to do that entirely within the next day as was timetabled. We expect this to be on November 7th for 2 days.

Notes to editors

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].

On the fourth day of the hearing of Mermaids and the Charity Commission regarding the charitable status of the LGB Alliance, we heard evidence from LGB Alliance’s co-founders Bev Jackson and Kate Harris.

The day began with the continuation of Ms Jackson’s evidence regarding the formation of the LGB Alliance, the initial documentation evidencing that formation, and the early campaigns and activities of the LGBA.

The second witness of the day was Kate Harris who began by detailing the results of surveys regarding sexuality demographics of their subscribers.

Ms Harris was then questioned on the founding of LGB Alliance, the founding principles that the LGB Alliance is guided by, and their initial activities. 

The hearing continues tomorrow.

Notes to editors

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].

Today was the third day of the hearing of Mermaids and the Charity Commission regarding the charitable status of the LGB Alliance. 

We heard evidence on behalf of Mermaids from John Nicolson MP and Chair of Mermaids Dr Belinda Bell, and from Bev Jackson, co-founder of the LGB Alliance. 

The focus of the questioning of Mr Nicolson was on his experience of the reform of the Gender Recognition Act in Scotland. They then spoke about LGB Alliance’s campaign materials and what he found objectionable about those. 

They also talked about Mr Nicolson’s tweets and his experience of social media “pile ons”. 

His witness statement is available here

Dr Belinda Bell then gave her evidence on behalf of Mermaids. This started by clarifying the position of Mermaids on definitions of sex and gender. 

The LGBA’s barristers then took her through the details of the interim Cass Report and focussed on the use of the term “born in the wrong body” in the trans community. 

We then went through the concerns of Mermaids regarding the LGB Alliance, which are detailed in Dr Bell’s witness statement

Bev Jackson began to be cross examined by Mermaids’ barristers. This started by clarifying what “gender critical” views are. 

The questioning then moved onto Ms Jackson’s beliefs that those who do not hold “gender critical” views are homophobic, and that sex can never be changed. 

In Ms Jackson’s evidence, she stated that LGBA see the immutability of biological sex as fact, that should be taught in schools. 

Ms Jackson was questioned on the tweets of LGB Alliance, and whether these focussed disproportionately on trans issues, and whether they overstate the position of LGBA. 

Cross examination of LGBA’s witnesses continues tomorrow, and the barristers submissions of their legal arguments will begin on Thursday morning. 

Notes to editors

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].

Today was the second day of the hearing of Mermaids versus the Charity Commission regarding the status of the LGB Alliance.

Paul Roberts, CEO of LGBT+ Consortium, gave evidence in support of Mermaids.

LGB Alliance’s legal team cross-examined Mr Roberts on his Witness Statement for several hours, and under intense questioning, he was clear that Consortium’s view is that trans women are women, trans men are men, and trans people belong in the LGBT community.

The tribunal also ruled in favour of publishing documents relevant to the case, including skeleton arguments and witness statements.

Notes to editors

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 hearing of Mermaids versus the Charity Commission regarding the status of the LGB Alliance began today with a two-minute silence to mark the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

The judges decided on a number of administrative matters to do with the rest of the hearing. 

It was decided that no witnesses would be called today (Friday 9 September) due to the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. 

The judges also decided that attendees can livetweet a factual account of the proceedings. 

Mermaids’ barristers took the court through a summary of the issues to be decided. 

These are: 

  • What is the purpose of the LGB Alliance? 
  • Is that purpose charitable? 
  • Is that charitable purpose beneficial?
  • Is that charitable purpose beneficial to the public? 
  • Is that a big enough section of the public? 
  • What is the effect of the charitable registration of LGB Alliance on Mermaids? 

The Charity Commission stated they will assist the Tribunal on the relevant charity law but won’t engage in disputing the facts of the case. 

The barristers for the LGB Alliance highlighted to the court that it may be necessary to determine points of Equality Law where appropriate in the case. 

Witnesses will begin to be cross examined from 10am on Monday. We’ll update supporters accordingly. 

Notes to editors

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].

Mermaids is challenging the decision by the Charity Commission to award the LGB Alliance charity status. The hearing starts on 9 September 2022.

Since 1995, we have supported thousands of transgender, non-binary and gender-diverse children, young people and their families, and hear all the time how vital our work is. 

It’s hard to grow up trans. And sadly, it’s getting even harder as some groups and individuals seek to undo the work that has been done on trans rights and trans inclusion.

That’s why Mermaids is challenging the decision by the Charity Commission to award LGB Alliance charity status and our appeal will be heard at a Tribunal which starts tomorrow (Friday 9 September) and is due to run until 16 September.

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 legal threshold has been met, and are grateful for the opportunity to present our arguments in full. 

We are supported in this appeal by a coalition of organisations, including Good Law Project, Consortium, LGBT Foundation, Gendered Intelligence and TransActual.

The case is a complex one, but we believe we have a strong case. Win or lose, our community is united, and we are proud to be standing up against transphobia in all forms.

Thank you for standing with us. 

Notes to editors

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].