Stonewall has defended itself after Kemi Badenoch, the equalities minister, accused it of “overreaching” and offering legal advice that differs from the Equality Act.
At an international conservative summit organised by right-wing umbrella body the Alliance for Responsible Citizenship, Badenoch said institutions that should be neutral have now been overtaken by leftist “activist groups”, naming Stonewall as an example.
She said: “We started going down the wrong track on gender ideology because we allowed other people to tell the government about what to do.
“Again, ideas that came from the leftist part of the academy have been feeding into particular charities. Stonewall is the best example of this but it’s not the only one.”
Badenoch said that the charity is “not the same Stonewall of 20 or 30 years ago”, accusing it of “overreaching” and “giving people legal advice or advice that is certainly different from what the Equality Act says”.
Stonewall defended itself against Badenoch’s comments, with a spokesperson saying: “We have never professed to offer legal advice and it is important to represent our work accurately.”
The spokesperson said the charity did provide expert guidance to hundreds of employers to ensure LGBTQ+ people were supported in workplaces through its Diversity Champions programme.
But they added: “Organisations are free to implement our guidance and make it work for their contexts. It is not a question of right- or left-wing thinking to unlock the potential of LGBTQ+ employees.”
This comes shortly after Suella Braverman, the Home Secretary, made similar comments at the Conservative Party conference last month when discussing immigration, accusing charities of opposing national borders “merely on principle”.
Braverman’s comments were criticised by charity leaders, with Sarah Vibert, chief executive of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, warning the rhetoric could create a “hostile climate for charities”.
Vibert said: “Suggesting that charities are acting against the interests of the British public is a narrative that actively seeks to undermine the high levels of public trust in charities.”