The Charity Commission has registered a controversial gay, lesbian and bisexual campaign group as a charity despite receiving more than 100 formal objections and uncovering “inflammatory and offensive” social media activity by the organisation.
The regulator said yesterday it had registered the LGB Alliance, which was set up in 2019 by a group of activists and former Stonewall supporters who were opposed to the charity’s work on transgender rights.
The move to register the LGB Alliance as a charity attracted criticism from organisations including Stonewall and Mermaids, a charity that supports transgender, nonbinary and gender-diverse children, young people and their families.
The alliance said it welcomed the regulator’s decision and it was keen to get on with its charitable aims of advancing the interests of lesbian, gay and bisexual people, which it says are endangered.
“We believe that attempts to introduce confusion between biological sex and the notion of gender are harming LGB people,” the charity says.
An online petition, signed by more than 39,000 people, called for the regulator to reject the application.
The petition says the alliance believes in the concept of the “adult human female, which disregards trans people”.
The commission told Third Sector it received more than 100 formal objections to the application, with concerns raised including that the LGB Alliance discriminated against transgender people, that its aims were political and therefore not charitable, and that its work would result in a degree of harm that outweighed the public benefit.
But the regulator concluded that the LGB Alliance’s objects, which include promoting equality and diversity for the public benefit, were exclusively charitable and it should be registered.
“The commission looked at whether LGB Alliance’s purpose inevitably involves the denigration of the rights of transgender people and considered that it did not,” the regulator’s decision said.
The regulator also said that during the course of the registration process, it noted some evidence of social media activity by the LGB Alliance "and considered that some of the language used may be regarded as inflammatory and offensive”.
The commission said it was concerned that “although it promoted the rights of some groups, the activity appeared to involve, at times, demeaning or denigrating the rights (recognised by law) of others”.
The regulator said it raised concerns with the LGB Alliance and the organisation revised its social media policy.
But the commission warned: “If a charity promotes the rights of one or more groups whilst demeaning or denigrating the rights of others, then the commission may consider taking regulatory action.”
In a statement on Twitter, Mermaids said it was “deeply disturbed” by the commission’s decision to register the LGB Alliance.
“Giving a divisive and polarising anti-trans campaign group such as the LGB Alliance a supposed mark of legitimacy brings into question the Charity Commission’s processes,” the charity said.
“We strongly challenge the suggestion that the LGB Alliance stands for the promotion of equality, diversity and human rights when it actively seeks to exclude transgender and gender-diverse people from the LGBTQ+ movement.
“We consider this decision by the Charity Commission to be a reckless and damaging act of betrayal to transgender and gender-diverse people and our allies.”
Nancy Kelley, chief executive of Stonewall, said: “It is upsetting to see that an organisation who were founded to oppose our work towards trans rights have been granted status as a registered charity.
“However, the Charity Commission is clear in its statement that it will not tolerate any demeaning or denigrating of the rights of others, including on social media.
“All registered charities are regulated and held accountable for their actions by the Charity Commission, and from today, this will include the LGB Alliance.”
The LGB Alliance said: “We welcome the Charity Commission’s decision today and we are keen to get on with our charitable aims of advancing the interests of LGB people.”