MP queries National Lottery Community Fund’s ‘disturbing’ decision to fund LGB Alliance

John Nicolson says he could not ‘imagine a less appropriate group’ to receive funds

John Nicolson MP
John Nicolson MP

A leading MP has raised concerns with the National Lottery Community Fund about its controversial decision to make a grant to the LGB Alliance.

John Nicolson, who is the MP for Orchil and South Perthshire and the Scottish National Party’s shadow culture minister, wrote to David Knott, chief executive of the NLCF, after the funder decided to award £9,000 to the LGB Alliance.

The charity is being funded to undertake preparatory work for a national advice line for gay, lesbian and bisexual young people. 

In the letter, sent earlier this month and seen by Third Sector, Nicolson said he could not “imagine a less appropriate group” to receive the funding.

The charity said in response that it had offered to talk with Nicolson and the offer was still open.

The LGB Alliance was registered as a charity last year, but this decision is being challenged in the courts in a case led by Mermaids and the Good Law Project, which claim the alliance discriminates against transgender people. 

In his letter to the NLCF, Nicolson wrote: “As someone who has been on the receiving end of a torrent of abuse from the LGB Alliance, I find your decision disturbing.”

Nicolson also asked Knott: “What due diligence do you do before giving grants? Were you aware of LGB Alliances past behaviour when you awarded it a grant? 

“If so, can you tell me why you thought it was appropriate to award a grant to a group with such an unsavoury and abusive record? The grant seems wildly out of kilter from your usual well-targeted and uncontentious pattern of donation.”

Nicolson said he had been “on the receiving end of the [LGB Alliance]'s venom” and was concerned “about the traumatic effect its activities have on one of the most vulnerable groups in society, young LGBT people”.

The charity said it was “delighted to have the opportunity” to conduct the NLCF-funded work and quoted another MP, Damian Green, who described the LGB Alliance as “big victims of cancel culture” and described it as “an entirely respectable organisation”.

It said: “We would echo the minister for arts, Lord Parkinson, who stressed the importance of a plurality of views. We agree with him that ‘the answer lies in addition not subtraction’. So it’s very disappointing that the provision of additional choice is not considered good news by all.

“We have invited Mr Nicholson to meet with us to talk about our work on a number of occasions and I am happy to do so again here. At LGB Alliance, we all believe that open conversations and honest collaboration is the best way to deliver much-needed support to all marginalised groups.

“If he is reading this, our offer of a cup of tea and a chat remains open.”

The NLCF declined to comment on Nicolson’s letter but said it was “satisfied that this project meets our eligibility criteria for funding.

“We have received a range of correspondence in relation to this grant, expressing both support and concern. We are grateful to those who have taken the time to contact us and remain confident about our decision to make this award.”

Last week it emerged that NLCF staff were among those who had raised concerns about the decision to award a grant to the LGB Alliance.  

In April, the London Community Foundation withdrew a grant it had made to the LGB Alliance after an outcry on social media, saying that it was not aware the charity’s status was being challenged in court.

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