Think tank set to challenge Maya Forstater victory in transgender legal row

An organisation accused of ending the employment of a woman due to her belief that people cannot change their biological sex is set to return to court after losing an appeal earlier this month.

Tax expert Maya Forstater has been embroiled in a legal battle with think tank the Centre for Global Development (CGD) after her contract was not renewed in March 2019.

Ms Forstater’s case is that her employment ended after she posted tweets opposing Government proposals to reform the Gender Recognition Act to allow people to identify as the opposite sex.

Ms Forstater originally took her case to an employment tribunal on the grounds that her dismissal constituted discrimination against her beliefs.

But employment judge James Tayler previously dismissed her claim, saying her views are “absolutist in her view of sex”.

During the employment appeal tribunal in April, she reiterated her views that biological sex is “real, important, immutable, and not to be conflated with gender identity”.

But following an appeal, High Court judge Mr Justice Choudhury said the original tribunal had “erred in law”.

Finding in favour of Ms Forstater, the High Court judge said her views “may well be profoundly offensive and even distressing”, but said they “must be tolerated in a pluralist society”.

Mr Justice Choudhury added: “This judgment does not mean that those with gender-critical beliefs can ‘misgender’ trans persons with impunity.”

CGD described the ruling as “a step backwards for inclusivity and equality for all”.

On Monday evening, it announced it accepted that gender critical beliefs may be protected in law, but said it would be bringing the case back to the lower Employment Tribunal “to dispute Maya Forstater’s version of events”.

Amanda Glassman, executive vice president of CGD, said: “After careful consideration and consultation about the various legal paths ahead of us, we have decided to fight the next phase of this case back in the Employment Tribunal.

“While we are disappointed in the recent ruling by the Employment Appeal Tribunal, we note that the judgment makes clear that while gender-critical beliefs may be protected, actions that harass or discriminate against trans people cannot be undertaken with impunity.”

Ms Glassman continued: “We will not appeal that ruling, but we will now return to the Employment Tribunal to make our case and dispute Maya Forstater’s version of events.

“We seek to protect our right and our obligation to maintain a workplace that is welcoming, safe, and inclusive to trans people and any vulnerable minority groups.

“We stand by our values of inclusion and that all people should be treated with respect and dignity.”

In the wake of Mr Justice Choudhury’s ruling, Ms Forstater said: “No-one can be forced to profess a belief they do not hold, like trans women are women and trans men are men, and punished if they refuse.

“I’m proud of the role that I’ve played in clarifying the law and inspiring more people to speak up but we can’t leave the burden on individuals to put this right.”