Advice on GPEW’s Guidance to Identify Queerphobia

1. I have been asked to review the Green Party of England & Wales’s Guidance titled ‘Guidance to Identify Queerphobia’ which I shall refer to as “Guidance”.

2. I note that the aim of this Guidance is to (i) provide a working definition of queerphobia and (ii) assist in identifying queerphobia. While I understand the spirit in which this Guidance was drafted and the aim of this Guidance, I have listed below some of the issues identified within the Guidance in its current form.

3. The Guidance is too prescriptive. It aims to provide clarity by listing various examples of
behaviours which would be deemed as queerphobia. At various parts of the Guidance, it
provides specific instances where acts/omissions “is” queerphobia, and while at other
sections refers to other acts/omissions as “could” be queerphobia. There seems to be a lack
of consideration given as to the context in which the behaviours listed could take place –
that is the individual set of circumstances of each case.

4. The Guidance does not appear to be balanced. While it seeks to protect the highlighted
protected characteristics, it fails to recognise or even acknowledge (explicitly) other
protected characteristics, including religion or belief.

5. The Guidance fails to address how it would seek to balance the protection of all protected
characteristics – such as religion or belief under the Equality Act 2010.

6. The Guidance fails to distinguish where someone holds a genuine religious and/or
philosophical belief under the Equality Act 2010 versus where a person discriminates
(whether directly and/or indirectly) or acts unlawfully against an individual the Guidance
seeks to protect.

7. Commonly, any guidance should be considered in the context of underlying policy, for
example, the Guidance should be supplemental to an overarching equality and diversity
policy (or similar). This would provide party members with clarity with the regards to the
expectation of the organisation with regards to issues of inclusion.

8. The Guidance cannot be used as the basis for formal action. The Guidance in its current form blurs the line: in that it refers to specific investigation/disciplinary process which ought to be triggered. For example, it states “Genuine errors and misunderstanding can still have potential harmful effects, and so action should still be taken to address them when they are identified, whether through the issuing of an apology, a retraction and/or training. A person volunteering a timely apology (to the person who they have affected) usually indicates an error or misunderstanding”.

9. While there are many well-documented case law examples which detail that people with
gender critical views have a right to express them, even if this causes offence, this does not
appear to have been taken into account or reflected within the Guidance. I will not detail the case law in this review for the sake of brevity.

10. To conclude, there has been well documented and widely reported caselaw which has
attempted to grapple with the balancing of the rights of people of different protected
characteristics.

11. The Guidance in its current form could be deemed to be biased (and potentially
discriminatory).

12. In order for the Guidance to be workable, my recommendation is (i) for there to be a formal independent review of the Guidance, including on how the party provides guidance in relation to all the protected characteristics in a way which is balanced, reasonable and
proportionate, (ii) for the Guidance to be suspended while this formal independent review is undertaken, and (iii) for the Guidance to be redrafted and updated to ensure that the Party complies with its current legal obligations, including the Equality Act 2010.

Sheetul Sowdagur
Russell-Cooke LLP
30 April 2024