Merched Cymru writes to Universities in Wales

Following the report into the illegal advice given to Essex University by Stonewall, and the negative implications for free speech, indirect discrimination towards women, and our sex-based rights, we have checked out universities in Wales to see if they are also at risk.

Other than Bangor, all Welsh universities are members of Stonewall (in an extraordinary piece of timing, Trinity St Davids announced their membership at the start of the month).

Our campaign

Yesterday, we wrote to every vice chancellor:

On behalf of Merched Cymru we are writing to ask that you end your membership of the Stonewall Diversity Champions scheme, both for the sake of your own reputation and as an essential step in protecting the rights of staff and students in relation to discrimination on the basis of sex, sexual orientation and religion or belief, as established by the Equality Act 2010.

We have drawn attention to the misleading advice provided by the lobby group, and to the conclusion of the Essex report which recommended that the university consider their relationship with Stonewall ‘in light of the drawbacks and potential illegalities’ that had arisen from membership of the scheme.

Stonewall has lost its way

We pointed out that:

Stonewall, a once-admirable organisation that fought for tolerance and against bigotry, has lost its way. It misrepresents UK law, and encourages the bullying of female employees and anyone who disagrees with its agenda of replacing sex with self-identified gender in all situations: from prisons to rugby; and from healthcare records to the census.

For many employees, the workplaces created by the Diversity Champions Scheme are not tolerant, but toxic, inimical to the principles of free speech. Staff and students feel ‘constrained to self-censor their speech and activity’; researchers in gender-critical fields are harassed – not infrequently by their own colleagues – and research-funding is withdrawn; feminist academics have been physically and verbally threatened on campus and online. The recent ‘Everyone’s Invited’ initiative collected over 16,000 testimonies – the vast majority from girls and young women – regarding the rising tide of sexual abuse and sexual violence they are subject to in our schools, universities and colleges. There is clear evidence that mixed-sex or gender-neutral facilities directly undermine the safety of female students (and staff). Perhaps more significantly, the withdrawal of single-sex provisions serves to deny the legitimacy of women’s boundaries or consent.

Asking for a commitment to equality

And we have called on each vice chancellor:

to leave the Diversity Champions Scheme, thus reaffirming your commitment to creating a workplace where ALL your employees and students are equally respected and valued, where a culture of free speech and open debate can thrive, and where the safety and dignity of women and girls is assured.

We will let you know their responses.

If you work in a Welsh university or college and have experience of the problems caused by Stonewall membership, please email us – anonymously if you prefer.