IN the UK right now a small, well-funded group of anti-trans activists and politicians is working to bring down Stonewall, one of the most successful charities advocating for LGBTQ+ rights in Europe.

Those involved argue Stonewall has lied and misrepresented the Equality Act 2010 for its own personal gain, to keep itself relevant, or for any other number of nefarious and increasingly bizarre purposes depending how far down that rabbit hole you are willing to go.

The problem with this narrative is that Stonewall’s interpretation of the Equality Act is, in fact, correct – and various court rulings have repeatedly backed that up. Stop me if you’ve heard this one already. (You probably haven’t.)

In May, there was an attempt to launch a judicial review against the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s guidance on the Equality Act for service users, which stated that the exclusion of trans people from single-sex spaces could be allowed only if it could be considered a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim.

READ MORE: Why Scottish parties' LGBT pledges reignite hope for the community

Ann Sinnott, a now former director of the LGB Alliance, crowdfunded almost £100,000 to lead this charge against the guidance because, in her view, transgender people should always be excluded from single-sex spaces regardless of whether it would be considered either proportionate or legitimate. This is quite a hop, skip and a jump from not too long ago when anti-trans activists were claiming they had no intention of trying to roll back equalities legislation while they campaigned against Gender Recognitions Act (GRA) reform.

A London High Court judge threw out the case of AEA v EHRC (2021), stating Sinnott’s interpretation of the Equality Act was “wrong in law”. That is a definitive rejection of the fantasy version of the Equality Act pushed by anti-trans activists – and all it cost them was enough money to just about secure themselves a seat in the House of Lords.

I’d like to re-iterate here that I would be more than happy to read the Equality Act out loud to anyone who needs to hear it for a lot less than that.

When I said earlier that you might not have heard about this story despite endless coverage of the various “controversies” that surround being a transgender person, it’s because it barely got a mention from the British press – probably because it would have sunk a hole in the lucrative Transphobe Cinematic Universe.

Vic Parsons, a journalist for Pink News, noted at the time there were at least three other journalists in the court when Sinnott’s case was thrown out, none of whom bothered to write up the outcome. The British press have been relentlessly hostile to transgender people over the past few years, with the number of articles being written about us (and very rarely ever by us) reaching silly numbers. With that in mind, it should raise questions as to why a judge ruling that the Equality Act does indeed protect transgender people’s rights to access single-sex spaces would have passed by in so many unwritten words.

Compare that to the breathless coverage of Stonewall allegedly giving Essex University “incorrect and potentially illegal” advice. This has been repeated ad nauseam as an excuse to paint the charity as having eschewed the Equality Act for its own interpretation of the law, colloquially referred to as “Stonewall Law” by anti-trans groups.

What you will not have seen covered with much depth, or for that matter, even mentioned at all by those who have been waving this story around, is what exactly that incorrect advice was.

IN its annual report as part of Stonewall’s Diversity Champions scheme, Essex Uni submitted a policy that stated “gender identity or trans status” were protected under the Equality Act. However, the actual wording of the Equality Act refers to “gender re-assignment”, an umbrella term that actually encompasses both gender identity and trans status – and that’s it. That’s the basis for the entire bùrach.

The Equality Act’s definition of “gender re-assignment” covers trans status, gender identity and also protects non-binary and gender fluid people too, as was ruled in a case against Jaguar Land Rover in 2020.

What this boiled down to was a regrettable choice of words that in no way misrepresented the Equality Act in terms of the spirit of the law itself. It’s a semantic gripe that has been blown out of all proportion.

READ MORE: Why was Douglas Ross wearing a rainbow pin in Holyrood?

That’s why when anti-trans activists raise this point, they’ll never tell you exactly what it is that Stonewall got wrong, and instead claim to be “just asking questions”, about ensuring whether equalities policies conform to the law.

In fact, they do adhere to the law – and anyone who would implement any form of trans exclusionary policy would ultimately be the ones to find themselves on the wrong side of the Equality Act.

The current moral panic around trans rights has been fuelled by an ongoing wilful misinterpretation of that legislation, coupled with widely published misinformation about trans people. In the pages of this newspaper just last week, a columnist even suggested lesbians were being called transphobes because they didn’t want to sleep with trans women.

Without doubt, this Pride Month is taking place against a backdrop of the most open hostility toward lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people and queer folk in recent history.

This manufactured outrage against trans people has now begun leading to dire outcomes that will affect the entire LGBTQ+ community in Scotland and the rest of the UK – as many of us repeatedly warned that it would.

With its relentless attacks on Stonewall, the anti-trans brigade has handed the most right-wing British Government in recent history the means to begin cutting ties with Europe’s largest LGBTQ+ rights organisation with little in the way of push back – and it has gleefully snatched that opportunity.