Cambridge Council's New Religion

 

By Dr Em

Cambridge Council had been in breach of the Equality Act, 2010, almost since it came into force. Just ten days after the EA2010 became law, the trans identified male Liberal Democrat Councillor, Sarah Brown, managed to remove women’s single-sex spaces in the city.1  Eight years later, and after pressure from women, on the 4 October 2018 Cambridge Council changed its equality policy to bring it back in line with the law. Nevertheless, the male backlash to women’s rights has a strong foothold and in response to women’s concerns councillors were required to pledge allegiance to transgenderism.

 

Introduced by Liberal Democrat Councillor Josh Matthews, Cambridge Council voted on 22 October 2020 to support the statement that men are women if they claim to be, women are men if they believe so, and non-binary people are special because everyone else neatly fits into a stereotype.2 This entailed that they endorsed the underlying ideology that sex-role stereotypes are innate, single-sex attraction is bigoted and children who don’t conform to sexist expectations require medicalising and surgically fixing.3 In this motion Cambridge Council have changed the definition of sex to mean how one feels, something which needs to be swiftly reconsidered in light of the 17 March 2021 High Court Ruling against the Office of National Statistics. ‘This case established that sex is a distinct concept in law, not something shaped by how a person feels’ and that organisations can ask a person’s sex when it is appropriate.4 Furthermore, this is not a belief which can be held without corresponding action. Cambridge Council, in pledging their faith, promised to remove as many women’s single-sex services as possible to the deity of male inclusion and male demands. As Mr Matthews and others currently campaign for votes in the local elections, will they be declaring on the doorstep that they don’t think sex is important, that they believe women are defined by what they are wearing and that they will work to remove women’s single-sex services in the area? If not, why not? Why hide their strongly held beliefs in local government minutes? Why refuse to answer questions about this motion? Is that democratic?

 

Belief it is, for it is based on sexist ‘science’ which does not prove that boys are born with girl brains or vice versa or that sex is not real, or that too many or too few cuddles from mum causes ‘transsexualism’.5 In February 2012, the High Court ruled that prayers before or during council meetings was an overreach of the Local Government Act, 1972, and thus unlawful.6 What is the declaration ‘Trans women (males) are women (females)’ if not a prayer and statement of faith? To require the councillors to subscribe to this would be to compel belief and could thus be in contradiction of Article 9 of the Human Rights Act, 1998, Freedom of Thought, Conscience and Religion. This compulsion of faith may also be in contradiction of Chapter 1, section 10 of the Equality Act, 2010, which explicitly allows for a lack of religious or philosophical belief.7

 

Nevertheless, on 18 December 2019, the London Central Employment Tribunal ruled, in Maya Forstater v CGD Europe, that a belief that there are only two biological sexes, neither of which can be changed (‘[b]eing female is an immutable biological fact, not a feeling or an identity’), does not come within the category ‘any religious or philosophical belief’ in section 10(2) of the Equality Act 2010’.8 The judge further asserted that belief in two biological sexes was ‘not worthy of respect in a democratic society’.9 This ruling is set to be appealed on the 27th and 28th of April 2021. Robert Wintemute has convincingly argued that ‘the Employment Tribunal, which clearly did not agree with Ms Forstater’s belief, erred in law by distorting the fifth Grainger criterion, with the effect of sweeping into the ‘not worthy of respect’ category any belief that some persons might find ‘offensive’, and therefore consider harassment, if (hypothetically) it were expressed to them directly in the workplace. As a different Employment Tribunal noted: ‘The belief that sex and gender are “set at birth” may be upsetting to certain people but if freedom of speech and the rights within articles 9 and 10 [EConHR]...only extended to expressions of belief that could upset no-one they would be worthless’.10 The previous behaviour of Cambridge Council when it removed women’s single-sex spaces between 2010-2018, thus discriminating against a protected characteristic, evidences that it acts on the belief that ‘trans women are women’. Cambridge Council, a part of local government, in adopting the motion that ‘trans women are women’ would seem to create an environment where differing views are not permitted and thus be discriminating against unbelievers. The motion could also be tantamount to harassment as it is being expressed within a workplace.


Stating these new articles of faith are a test of compliance and cowardice. They are used as a means to remove the experienced or those with the courage to question the ideology and replace them with either the young and malleable or at least the submissive. In 2018, Ann Sinnott resigned from Cambridge Council over its decision to permit males to access women’s single-sex spaces and services.11 More recently, the resignation of Kevin Price, a Labour Councillor who had served for 10 years, highlights the bullying behaviour of those who would impose the new dogma. Price resigned his seat on Cambridge Council as he felt he could not vote against his party but did not support the motion ‘trans women are women’ or its impact on women’s rights.12 In the run up to this Price had experienced the tactic of transgenderism’s supporters using the complaints process to harass individuals and subsequently intimidate others into silence.13 The use of the complaints procedure in this way is sadly frequently seen in academia. The process is the punishment, no matter what the outcome.

 

The complaint against Kevin Price was over his alleged liking or tweeting ‘transphobic’ comments, such as lesbians do not like penis. For example, ‘one post the report claims Mr Price retweeted features a picture of a person, with the words: “An adult human male who claims to be a lesbian (yes, he’s kept his dangling bits and has skipped the hormones) and believes that real lesbians who aren’t into penises are transphobic and should be excluded from the lesbian community. Yeah this guy’”.14 This was argued to be against Council conduct policy because it would offend males who identify as lesbians. The Council’s policy of never causing offence, particularly if the offended person is male, seems to be in breach of Article 10 of the Human Rights Act, 1998, which enshrines that ‘we have the right to express ourselves freely and hold our own opinions – even if our views are unpopular or could upset or offend others’.15 The appeal of Hayden vs. Scottow in Scottow vs. CPS [2020] EWHC 3421 quashed Scottow’s conviction for causing offence and annoyance and reiterated that expressing opinions that hurt someone’s feelings is not illegal and is a fundamental human right.16 Point 32 of the judgement outlined that

 

‘the wording, legislative history, and context make it apparent that the mischief at which the

offence now contained in s 127(2)(c) was aimed is not the communication of information or

ideas that offend the recipient, or even the communication of messages that have offence

as a purpose. Its object was to prohibit the abuse of the facilities afforded by a publicly

funded network by repeatedly exploiting those facilities to communicate with another for

no other purpose than to annoy them, or cause them inconvenience, or needless anxiety.

The focus is not on the content of any communication, but rather its purpose and the way

in which that purpose is put into effect. I have no doubt that repeated instances of prank calls,

silent calls, heavy breathing, and other common forms of nuisance phone call, containing

no meaningful content, would fall within the scope of s 127(2)(c)’.17

 

Should an employer’s code of conduct, an arm of government’s code of conduct no less, such as Cambridge Council’s, be able to overrule British law and remove an employee’s human rights? Surely the free expression of ideas and expression of dissent is necessary in a democratic society and democratic institution such as that of local government? To call the opinion that lesbians are same-sex attracted and should not be socially and sexually coerced to consider penises as part of their sexuality ‘offensive’ would seem to discriminate against the protected characteristic of sexuality in the Equality Act. Alongside this, point 43 of the Scottow vs. Crime Prosecution Service appeal has reiterated that ‘free speech encompasses the right to offend, and indeed to abuse another. The Judge appears to have considered that a criminal conviction was merited for acts of unkindness, and calling others names, and that such acts could only be justified if they made a contribution to a “proper debate”.18 Both Kevin Price and Cambridge Council had to appoint legal representatives in the dispute over whether three tweets were ‘transphobic’, incurring high costs. These significant costs are part of the complaints procedure process and silencing tactic, contesting the mantra is often unaffordable. We must question as well if this is a good use of Council tax payers’ money. Why was it not highlighted on the Council website where one can see ‘What Your Council Tax Pays For’?19 We only know about the complaints made about Mr Price and the Council’s instruction of a barrister because, as part of the punishment process for dissent, they were leaked to the local press.20

 


Watching people lose their jobs over questioning transgender ideology serves as a warning to others and it is a warning we are seeing on a national scale. In 2021 Scottish National Party MP, Joanna Cherry, was removed from the Westminster front bench and replaced by Stuart McDonald and Anne McLaughlin after she repeatedly and vocally stood up for women’s rights.21 If the person accused of ‘transphobia’ manages to remain in their position they will be hounded by the woke mob. In 2019 Joanna Cherry required police protection because of the threats she was receiving; later, in February 2021 she was once again having to report threats to the police after she was smeared by colleagues as a ‘transphobe’ due to her support for women’s rights.22 In October 2020 the Labour MP, Rosie Duffield, was ‘branded a "transphobe" after a row on Twitter’ and ‘has been left "completely terrified" by threats made against her life – but refuses to be silenced’.23 Labour party activists campaigned for Duffield to have the whip removed from her because she dissented from the new ideology.24 

 

Not satisfied that Mr Price had been forced out of his decade long position on the Council, the woke mob tried to get him sacked from his job as a Clare College porter.

 

It was alleged that ‘Cambridge students feel “alienated and unsafe'' in their college… after one of its porters [Kevin Price] resigned his seat on the city council over a motion on trans rights’.25 It was these words of Mr Price that had terrified the students: “The inclusion of the first three sentences of this motion will send a chill down the spines of the many women who believe there is a conflict of rights and who want to be able to discuss those in a calm and evidence-based way.”26 Frankie Kendal, an LGBT+ representative on the union, claimed that he felt ‘entirely dismayed that the incredible trans and non-binary students at Clare have been made to feel alienated and unsafe in their homes’ by Mr Price’s words.27 Mr Kendal’s reaction and Cambridge Council’s behaviour are not worlds apart. Similarly, the Council’s approach is that only one view and position is acceptable, and everyone must subscribe. Yet, Cambridge Council being a part of local government has a public sector duty to maintain under the Equality Act. From the notes to the motion it appears they have failed in this.

 

Public Sector Equality Duty

 

The Public Sector Equality Duty means that when public authorities, such as Cambridge Council, carry out their functions they have to consider how their policy will eliminate unlawful discrimination, advance equality of opportunity between people who share a protected characteristic and those who don’t, and foster good relations between people who share a protected characteristic and those who don’t.28 With the motion ‘trans women are women’ will this eliminate discrimination against both females and men who identify as transgender, does it take into account needs specific to females such as protection from male violence, will the redefinition of sex advance equality of opportunity between females and males, will the motion encourage good relations between females and transgender identified males? What about females who believe that they are discriminated against because of their sex, or believe that if you have a penis you are male? Removing single-sex facilities such as toilets, changing rooms and refuges by redefining sex necessitates that Cambridge Council is not meeting the sex specific needs of females.

 

The Public Sector Equality Duty also means that those with the protected characteristic – in this respect both sex and a Gender Recognition Certificate – should be consulted. Cambridge Council only consulted transgender lobbyists; no female-only groups or groups that would have contested the motion were asked. This is clear in the agenda and minutes where ‘The Council thanks the representatives and campaigners from the Kite Trust, Dhiverse, and the Encompass Network, that met with cross-party councillors and officers—and expresses its optimism that despite the Government, ongoing talks will reinforce and develop empathy and inclusivity in Cambridge’.29 This wording frames women’s legitimate concerns about the erosion of their rights as fuelled by unkindness and a lack of empathy, rather than evidence and science. All three may be characterised as transgender lobby groups. Point 3 of the Council notes details ‘The strong partnership the council has had with LGBTQIA+ groups in the city, including the Kite Trust, Dhiverse, the Encompass Network and Cambridge Pride and the desire to continue to build and develop these relationships as part of our equality work’.30 There is no similar mention of work with or support for women’s groups. Point 4 reiterates the ‘Council’s support for LGBTQIA+ initiatives including:

 i. participation in schemes such as the Encompass Network Safe Spaces initiative,

 

ii. financial support to LGBTQIA+ groups through the grants programme,

    with grants of £23,500 in the period 2020/21.’31

The Council was thus consulting groups it funds and excluding another impacted characteristic (sex: female) when drafting the motion. There seems to be a failure in due regard for all impacted protected characteristics, an apparent failure to foster good relations between impacted protected characteristics and a possible conflict of interests. Cambridge Council’s behaviour requires legal challenge as it is the courts who decide if a public authority has done enough to comply with the duty.

 

Conclusion

 

The Council claims that the re-definition of biological sex to mean a male is a female if he says so and one may not question it, that some people are neither sex, or that females are male if they claim to be, will have no impact on the Equality Act and single-sex services. The evidence suggests otherwise. Moreover, if the statement ‘trans women are women’ would have no impact on policy then what was the purpose of the motion? Including males in the definition of female obliterates the single-sex exemption. This important protected characteristic is in place to encourage greater participation of females in public life, protect their privacy and dignity, and provide protection from male violence and sexual predation. In 2018 a Times investigation found that ‘almost 90% of reported sexual assaults, harassment and voyeurism in swimming pool and sports-centre changing rooms happen in unisex facilities, which make up less than half the total’.32 Andrew Gilligan points out that ‘gender-neutral changing is growing as councils seek to cut staff costs and cater to transgender people. But one MP said ‘it risked becoming a “magnet” for sex offenders and increased the danger to women and girls’.33 Cambridge Council, rather than declaring all changing rooms and toilets in their buildings ‘gender-neutral’ has side-stepped this by allowing any male to self-identify as a woman and thus elevated male feelings above women’s rights and safety.

 

In the wake of the Sarah Everard murder male violence against women is once again dominating national headlines and being spoken about in Parliament. It is not good enough to just undim the street lights, to react to male violence against women, to wait for something to happen, we need to actively prevent it.34 The first step in that is maintaining the definition of woman and the rights which are attached to that. Women are subjected to male violence because of their sex, not because of what they are wearing as the transgenderists would have us believe. The hyper-individualism of transgender ideology denies that females are a sex-class and the analysis based on this which would challenge discrimination and violence against us. The law is slowly responding to the daily reality of being female in a misogynistic culture but the Council is acting outside of the law. This is leaving Cambridge women in a dangerous and frustrating position.

 

References:

 

1 A. Sinnott, ‘Cambridge Council and the Equality Act’, A Woman’s Place UK (31 October 2018), https://womansplaceuk.org/cambridge-council-equality-act/

 

2 ‘Trans rights are human rights: Council motion’, Cambridge Council, https://www.cambridge.gov.uk/trans-rights-are-human-rights-council-motion

 

3 Dr Em, ‘A Rebuttal to Ms Black & Ms. Rayner: Anti-feminist Politicians with Lazy Thinking? Part I.’, Uncommon Ground (11 August 2019),

https://uncommongroundmedia.com/a-rebuttal-to-ms-black-ms-rayner-anti-feminist-politicians-with-lazy-thinking-part-i/

 

4 ‘Fair Play For Women wins High Court challenge and judge orders sex must not be self-identified in the Census’, Fair Play For Women (17 March 2021),

https://fairplayforwomen.com/fair-play-for-women-wins-high-court-challenge-against-ons-census/

 

5 Dr. Em, ‘Sexist History at the Heart of the ‘Science’ on Transsexualism, Part I: Benjamin, Ihlenfeld, Money & Ehrhardt’, Uncommon Ground (1 May 2020),

https://uncommongroundmedia.com/sexist-science-transsexualism-part-i-benjamin-ihlenfeld-money-ehrhardt/

Dr. Em, ‘Sexist History at the Heart of the ‘Science’ on Transsexualism, Part II: Robert Stoller, True Trans’, Uncommon Ground (3 May 2020), https://uncommongroundmedia.com/robert-stoller-true-trans/

 

6 J. Kay, ‘Council's prayers ruled unlawful’, BBC (10 February 2010), https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/uk-16980301

 

7 Equality Act 2010, UK Public General Acts 2010, c. 15 Part 2, Chapter 1, Section 10 https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2010/15/section/10

 

8 R. Wintemute, ‘Belief vs. Action in Ladele, Ngole and Forstater’, Industrial Law Journal (Advanced Access Publication 11 January 2021), p.1.

 

9 R. Wintemute, ‘Belief vs. Action in Ladele, Ngole and Forstater’, Industrial Law Journal (Advanced Access Publication 11 January 2021), p.1.

 

10 R. Wintemute, ‘Belief vs. Action in Ladele, Ngole and Forstater’, Industrial Law Journal (Advanced Access Publication 11 January 2021), p.13.

 

11 ‘What's the public sector equality duty?’, Citizen’s Advice, https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/law-and-courts/discrimination/public-sector-equality-duty/what-s-the-public-sector-equality-duty/

 

12 E. Yeomans, ‘Cambridge row over ‘transphobic’ porter Kevin Price’, The Times (October 28 2020), https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/cambridge-row-over-transphobic-porter-kevin-price-8bb7px950

 

13 This idea was articulated by J. Best, who was subjected to lengthy disciplinary action for allegedly ‘transphobic’ tweets:

https://twitter.com/JonnyWorst/status/1363063685028208641 E. Somerville, ‘University forced to apologise and compensate PhD student over 'transphobic' tweets’, The Telegraph (6 March 2021),

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2021/03/06/university-forced-apologise-compensate-phd-student-transphobic/

 

14 B. Hatton, ‘Councillor who stood down over trans rights motion had been accused of breaking code of conduct’, Cambridgeshire Live (29 October 2020),

https://www.cambridge-news.co.uk/news/cambridge-news/councillor-who-stood-down-over-19176402

 

15 ‘ Freedom of Expression’, Liberty, https://www.libertyhumanrights.org.uk/right/freedom-of-expression/

 

16 Scottow vs CPS Judgement, [2020] EWHC 3421 (16 December 2020), pp. 15 -16, https://www.judiciary.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/Scottow-v-CPS-judgment-161220.pdf

 

17 Scottow vs CPS Judgement, [2020] EWHC 3421 (16 December 2020), pp. 15 -16, https://www.judiciary.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/Scottow-v-CPS-judgment-161220.pdf

 

18 Scottow vs CPS Judgement, [2020] EWHC 3421 (16 December 2020), pp. 19, https://www.judiciary.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/Scottow-v-CPS-judgment-161220.pdf

 

19 ‘What Your Council Tax Pays For’, Cambridge Council, https://www.cambridge.gov.uk/what-your-council-tax-pays-for

 

20 B. Hatton, ‘Councillor who stood down over trans rights motion had been accused of breaking code of conduct’, Cambridgeshire Live (29 October 2020),

https://www.cambridge-news.co.uk/news/cambridge-news/councillor-who-stood-down-over-19176402

 

21 K. Nutt, ‘Joanna Cherry replaced by Stuart McDonald and Anne McLaughlin in SNP reshuffle’, The National (1

February 2020),

https://www.thenational.scot/news/19054851.joanna-cherry-loses-frontbench-role-snps-westminster-reshuffle/

 

22 P. Gourtsoyannis, ‘Police protection for SNP MP Joanna Cherry after death threats’, The Scotsman (6 May 2019), A. Grant, ‘Police protection for SNP MP Joanna Cherry after death threats’, The Herald (2 February 2021), https://www.heraldscotland.com/news/19057333.joanna-cherry-accuses-colleagues-lies-smears-receiving-threat/

23 L. Chantler-Hicks, ‘Canterbury MP Rosie Duffield speaks out about threats received in wake of 'transphobe' Twitter row’, Kent Online (12 October 2020),

https://www.kentonline.co.uk/canterbury/news/ive-received-threats-but-will-not-be-silenced-235405/

 

24 V. Parsons, ‘Labour activists demand Rosie Duffield have party whip withdrawn amid bitter transphobia row’, Yahoo Sport (5 October 2020),

https://uk.sports.yahoo.com/news/labour-activists-demand-rosie-duffield-164124490.html

 

25 E. Yeomans, ‘Cambridge row over ‘transphobic’ porter Kevin Price’, The Times (October 28 2020), https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/cambridge-row-over-transphobic-porter-kevin-price-8bb7px950

 

26 E. Yeomans, ‘Cambridge row over ‘transphobic’ porter Kevin Price’, The Times (October 28 2020), https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/cambridge-row-over-transphobic-porter-kevin-price-8bb7px950

27. ibid.

28. Equality Act 2010, UK Public General Acts2010 c. 15 Part 11, Chapter 1, Section 149, https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2010/15/section/149

29. ‘Agenda and minutes: Council: Thursday, 22nd October, 2020 6.00 pm’, Council and Democracy, Cambridge City Council,

https://democracy.cambridge.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=116&MId=3778&Ver=4

 

30. ‘Agenda and minutes: Council: Thursday, 22nd October, 2020 6.00 pm’, Council and Democracy, Cambridge City Council,

https://democracy.cambridge.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=116&MId=3778&Ver=4

 

31. ‘Agenda and minutes: Council: Thursday, 22nd October, 2020 6.00 pm’, Council and Democracy, Cambridge City Council,

https://democracy.cambridge.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=116&MId=3778&Ver=4

 

32. A. Gilligan, ‘Unisex changing rooms put women in danger’, The Times (2 September 2018), https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/unisex-changing-rooms-put-women-in-danger-8lwbp8kgk

 

33.  A. Gilligan, ‘Unisex changing rooms put women in danger’, The Times (2 September 2018), https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/unisex-changing-rooms-put-women-in-danger-8lwbp8kgk

 

34. ‘Plain clothes police in clubs and more street lighting to better protect women in wake of Sarah Everard death’, ITV News (16 March 2021), https://www.itv.com/news/2021-03-16/undercover-officers-at-nightclubs-among-plans-to-better-protect-women