In a blow to free speech protections in the United Kingdom, a judge in an employment tribunal has ruled that there is no right to question whether a transgender person is a man or a woman.
Maya Forstater, a former tax expert, who was fired from her job at the Centre for Global Development after tweeting that “men cannot change into women“, lost her legal challenge against her firing.
The ruling found that the Equality Act 2010 did not protect Ms Forstater’s right to express the philosophical belief that there are only two genders and therefore her firing was legal, reports The Telegraph.
In his ruling, employment Judge Taylor said that Ms Forstater’s gender-critical position “is incompatible with human dignity and fundamental rights of others”.
Judge Taylor argued that the legal rights of a transgender person override Ms Forstater’s right to express her opinions, saying that she was responsible for “enormous pain that can be caused by misgendering a person”.
“If a person has transitioned from male to female and has a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC), that person is legally a woman. That is not something [Ms Forstater] is entitled to ignore. [Ms Forstater’s] position is that even if a trans woman has a GRC, she cannot honestly describe herself as a woman. That belief is not worthy of respect in a democratic society,” Taylor said.
“Even paying due regard to the qualified right to freedom of expression, people cannot expect to be protected if their core belief involves violating others’ dignity and creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating, or offensive environment for them,” he concluded.
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In response to the ruling, Ms Forstater said: “I struggle to express the shock and disbelief I feel at reading this judgment, which I think will be shared by the vast majority of people who are familiar with my case.”
“This judgment removes women’s rights and the right to freedom of belief and speech. It gives judicial licence for women and men who speak up for objective truth and clear debate to be subject to aggression, bullying, no-platforming, and economic punishment,” she added.
“I will consider the judgment closely with my legal team to determine what can be done to challenge it,” Forstater announced.
Ms Forstater’s solicitor said that “the significance of this judgment should not be downplayed”, adding that had his client won the case, it would have protected people on both sides of the argument “to express their beliefs without fear of being discriminated against”.
Jodie Ginsberg of Index on Censorship wrote that she was “deeply worried” about the ruling and its implications “for free speech — and in particular the potential it gives for ever greater policing of an individual’s personal views and opinions by employers”.
At the time of Ms Forstater’s firing, Ginsberg said: “From what I have read of her writing, I cannot see that Maya has done anything wrong other than express an opinion that many feminists share — that there should be a public and open debate about the distinction between sex and gender.”
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