Woman fired over trans tweets wins free speech ruling
By Neil Sears
A TAX consultant who lost her job after saying men cannot become women has won a landmark ruling that protects her belief in law. Bosses refused to renew Maya Forstater’s contract following complaints about her opposition to trans women competing in women’s sports and being admitted to female- only jails and refuges. The think tank where she worked told her she had used ‘offensive and exclusionary’ language. Miss Forstater went to an employment tribunal claiming discrimination over her beliefs, but her case was thrown out and her view that biological sex is immutable was criticised as ‘absolutist’ and ‘not worthy of respect in a democratic society’. Yesterday, however, a High Court appeal judge in London said the tribunal had ‘erred in law’ and that her belief was protected. Harry Potter author JK Rowling, who backed Miss Forstater and has herself been criticised for her comments on trans issues, sent a private message of congratulations to her and retweeted her celebratory declaration: ‘We won!’ Free speech campaigners Index On Censorship also welcomed the ruling, saying: ‘This case was about protecting in law the right to hold certain beliefs. We are pleased that the judge has recognised this and upheld the appeal.’ Miss Forstater, 46, now hopes to restart her case against the Centre for Global Development – which campaigns against global poverty and inequality – and could be awarded compensation if she wins. The think tank had taken exception to posts on her private Twitter account opposing government plans to make it easier to ‘self-identify’ as the opposite sex. She had tweeted: ‘Smart people are tying themselves in knots to avoid saying the truth that men cannot change into women. Some transgender people have cosmetic surgery. But most retain their birth genitals. Everyone’s equality and safety should be protected, but women and girls lose out on privacy, safety and fairness if males are allowed into changing rooms, dormitories, prisons, sports teams.’ Miss Forstater’s contract was not renewed in March 2019. Last night she said: ‘I stand by everything I tweeted. Everything I’ve said is about rules made by our organisations which harm women – rules saying women’s and girls’ sports should be open to people with male bodies, for example. ‘Rules are being made to make organisations more inclusive of trans women, but that harms women and girls – who’s allowed into a women’s refuge, or prison.’ Miss Forstater said she had struggled to find work as a result of the furore, but has now co-founded Sex Matters, a campaign to defend those who share her beliefs. Miss Rowling previously supported Miss Forstater’s case by tweeting: ‘Live your best life in peace and security. But force women out of their jobs for stating that sex is real?’ Mr Justice Choudhury stressed yesterday that his judgment did not give free rein to opponents of expanding trans rights, but said Miss Forstater’s beliefs ‘must be tolerated in a pluralist society’. The Centre for Global Development said the ruling was ‘disappointing and surprising’.