When Discrimination Clashes

The LGBT+ community has made great progress in recent years in its movement towards equality, acceptance and inclusivity.  Complete equality does, however, remain elusive. It is unsettling that the transgender community receives more scorn from the lesbian, gay and bisexual community than from their straight counterparts. It is, perhaps, time for reflection.

Within this context, it is disturbing (or interesting) to note the emergence of a splinter group called the LGB Alliance. Given that we recently celebrated the 50th anniversary of Stonewall, this should surely be a time for unity and not division.

An incident was recently reported in the press which involved a member of the LGB Alliance and a group of transgender individuals. The incident allegedly happened at the Polo Lounge, a well-known Glasgow LGBT night club, where a complaint against an LGB Alliance member by transgender patrons resulted in the LGB Alliance member being asked to turn her T-shirt inside out to hide the LGB Alliance logo or, failing that, to leave the club. The LGB Alliance member elected to leave the club. This incident illustrates the complexity of human rights and discrimination law. 

LGB Alliance, according to its website, aims to advance the interests of LGB persons whose welfare is seen as being eroded by the transgender community due to the potential confusion between a person’s biological sex and their gender-identification.

The excluded LGB Alliance member felt strongly that the Polo Lounge had breached the Equality Act 2010. The issue is more complex than it appears at first glance. Daniel Theron, a partner at Giambrone’s Glasgow office who regularly advised on LGBT issues, has considered the matter and, after reviewing the LGB Alliance’s website commented, “the LGB Alliance makes no secret of its apparent disapproval of self-identifying gender issues and actively campaigns in this area.  The fact that the LGB Alliance member was asked to leave the Polo Lounge could, on the face of it, be argued to be discriminatory if it was because of the member’s sexuality and therefore covered by the Equality Act. But it has been reported that the reason for the member leaving was as a result of the member’s attire, not necessarily the member’s sexuality. If so, it is highly unlikely to be covered by the Act. In any event, the LGB Alliance may lose the moral high ground as its mission statement in itself appears to be discriminatory given sexual orientation and Gender reassignment are specifically covered under the Act”.

The LGB Alliance member strongly believes that her treatment breached the Equality Act 2010. Equally, the transgender patrons at the club strongly believe her T-shirt caused offence and was discriminatory in nature.

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