• Robert Spicer

PHILOSOPHICAL BELIEF

Gender-critical beliefs In the case of Forstater v CGD Europe, Ms F worked under a consultancy agreement as a researcher and writer with CGD, a think tank. She believes that sex is biologically immutable and that there are only two genders and that it is not possible to change sex. She commented on this on social media and some of CGD’s staff raised concerns about this. When Ms F’s contract ended, CGD refused to re-engage her. Ms F complained of direct discrimination in that the refusal to re-engage her was because of her gender-critical opinions. The employment tribunal (ET) held a preliminary hearing to decide whether her beliefs were protected by the Equality Act 2010. The ET considered the criteria for “philosophical belief”, as follows: · The belief must be genuinely held · It must be a belief and not an opinion or viewpoint · It must relate to a weighty and substantial aspect of human life and behaviour · It must attain a level of cogency, seriousness, cohesion and importance · It must be worthy of respect in a democratic society and must not be incompatible with human dignity nor conflict with others’ fundamental rights. In the Forstater case, the ET found that Ms F’s belief was not worthy of respect in a democratic society and was not a protected characteristic. Ms F appealed to the EAT. The appeal was allowed. * Gender-critical beliefs are protected under the Equality Act. * A philosophical belief would only be excluded if it were the kind of belief akin to Nazism or totalitarianism. * Beliefs which are offensive, shocking or even disturbing would not be excluded from protection. * Ms F’s beliefs were widely shared and demanded particular care before they could be condemned as being not worthy of respect in a democratic society.


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