LGBTQ+ Action Plan: What’s the problem?

Over the next six weeks we’ll be publishing a range of guest blogs focusing on the Action Plan recommendations. We’ll be looking at the potential impact of the Plan on the majority of us who expect our government to base policy decisions on evidence rather than ideology, and on the law as it stands rather than as Stonewall would wish it to be.

To set the scene, we’ve analysed the language, methodology and (minimal) evidence-base behind the plan.

In every regard the LGBTQ+ Action Plan is built on sinking sands.

Let’s start with the language…

LGBTQ+ is not a homogenous group.

The use of the acronym serves to confuse rather than to clarify. It has led to a set of recommendations of dubious relevance or value to the majority of members of this imaginary community.

The LGB Alliance was formed because Stonewall no longer represented same-sex attracted people. Even within this demographic, issues affecting lesbians, gay men and bisexual people are very different. Their concerns and needs cannot be addressed without an appreciation of that specificity. Nor do trans people speak with a single voice: the lives of transwomen and transmen are very different, as are their reasons for transitioning.

The language is based on a set of beliefs that are shared by a tiny minority

Words are defined according to gender ideology, not on the basis of common usage, dictionary definitions, or material/biological reality. ‘Trans’ for example, is ‘an umbrella term to refer to people whose gender is not the same as, or does not sit comfortably with, the sex they were assigned at birth.’ No-one has their sex ‘assigned at birth’. We are all born male or female – including people with DSDs (disorders of Sexual Development). Sex is binary and immutable.

Many terms are contested – including by those in the ‘community’. For example, the term ‘queer’ is used in the title of the Plan and throughout the document in spite of the widespread antipathy of many LGB people to this term. It is offensive to many and its use in a formal government document is not acceptable.

The ideological basis of the language renders much of the Plan entirely incoherent. For example:

We want Wales to be a nation where everyone feels safe to be themselves, to be open about their sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and sex characteristics, at home, leisure or work without feeling threatened.

‘Being oneself’ in relation to one’s sexuality is not always appropriate – particularly at work. The need to ‘be open’ can easily become oppressive to others – men and boys ‘being themselves’ in terms of their sexuality has produced a tsunami of sexual harassment in our schools and colleges and society at large. A member of staff at the NSPCC who brought his sexual fetish to work was initially defended by the organisation – those complaining were accused of ‘kink-shaming’ – until public opinion forced a resignation. And the notion of ‘being open’ about one’s ‘sexual characteristics’ is either meaningless gibberish or a flashers’ charter. The former would be preferred. Neither are acceptable.

Sex and gender are conflated and sex-based rights erased

The Plan reads:

We know that issues being faced by the LGBTQ+ community are often multidimensional: that is why this action plan has an unprecedented focus on intersectionality. It aligns closely with all of our work to advance human rights and reduce inequality relating to gender, disability, faith, age and race. Equality is for and means everyone in Wales, with no-one left behind.

No-one except women – the female sex – it would seem. Stonewall’s stated intention is to remove women’s sex-based rights as set out in the Equality Act 2010. This linguistic sleight of hand is part of that process.

Welsh Government’s membership of Stonewall’s Diversity Champions’ scheme requires the protected characteristic of sex to be either subsumed beneath the undefined and unverifiable term ‘gender’, conflated with ‘gender’ and ‘gender identity’, or simply ignored.

The authors of this Action Plan have done just that.

Merched Cymru and LGB Alliance Cymru are working together to respond to Welsh Government’s LGBT+ Action Plan. See our page here.