- This story has been amended, please see final paragraph
The Big Lottery Fund has said it is reviewing its decision to award £500,000 to the charity Mermaids, which works with transgender children, after an article in yesterday’s Sunday Times criticised the move.
But sector leaders have criticised the Sunday Times piece, calling it "cheap" and "hateful spin".
Mermaids supports young people who are experiencing gender dysphoria, a condition in which the person feels they have been born into a body with the wrong gender, and is campaigning for children to have support in schools and the healthcare system.
The article said the charity, which has been awarded a £500,000 grant by the BLF to develop a nationwide network of 45 groups across the country over the next five years, had been accused of bullying doctors, promoting falsehoods and using "emotional blackmail" to pressure parents to support life-changing medical interventions for their children.
The BLF was quoted in the Sunday Times story as saying that if concerns were raised it would look into them, but adding: "However, we do not see any reason not to fund this."
But in a statement made to Third Sector today, a BLF spokeswoman said: "We have received a range of correspondence in relation to a proposed grant to Mermaids, expressing both concern and support regarding this organisation.
"We’re grateful to those who have taken the time to write to us and, in light of the nature and volume of the communication we have received, we have decided to undertake a review of this grant."
He said on Twitter that the story was a "cheap pop" against the charity and harked back to old stories attacking gay and lesbian charities.
So sad, but unsurprising to see The Sunday Times taking a cheap pop @Mermaids_Gender again. Any others remember the same headline in the Mail 20 years ago re The National Lottery funding gay youth groups? They stood strong then. I trust they will now #ComeOutForTransEquality— Simon Blake (@Simonablake) December 16, 2018
Nathalie McDermott, who founded On the Road Media, a charity that aims to improve media coverage of groups that are under-represented or misrepresented, also tweeted her support.
Any small charity that has ever had funding from Big Lottery knows how rigorous the process is. They will have studied the facts, and spoken to many experts and people with lived experience, not just @Mermaids_Gender. Gilligan’s hateful spin is designed to confuse. Don’t buy it.— Nathalie McDermott (@natmc) December 16, 2018
She said the piece was "hateful spin, designed to confuse. Don’t buy it."
Mermaids did not respond to Third Sector’s request for comment on Monday morning.
This story has been amended. It previously said Mermaids was "campaigning to allow those under 16 to be able to undergo gender reassignment surgery", which it does not.