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Forstater ‘beliefs’ case goes to the Employment Appeal Tribunal

May 4, 2021
Employment Law

In the last few days, the difficult case of Forstater v CGD Europe has been heard by the Employment Appeal Tribunal.  Do you have an opinion on what the EAT should decide?

What’s it all about?

Maya Forstater is a tax expert whose contract of employment with CGD Europe was not renewed after she posted various messages on Twitter, voicing her opinion on the extent to which people can ‘self-identify’ as a gender different from that into which they were apparently born. When this case was heard by the London Central Employment Tribunal, Employment Judge Tayler concluded that Ms Forstater’s beliefs were not protected by the Equality Act 2010.  Instead, her views (which lawyers summarise as the belief that a person’s sex cannot be changed) were found to be "incompatible with human dignity and fundamental rights of others".  As a result, EJ Tayler ruled that they were not worthy of respect in a democratic society, which is one of the established requirements for a belief to be protected under discrimination legislation.

The controversy

The case has garnered considerable media attention, both in the legal and the mainstream press.  It inevitably raises interesting and important legal questions about the scope and reach of religion and belief discrimination.  More broadly, however, the case seems to encapsulate a wider dilemma about the clash of rights between those who hold views similar to Ms Forstater about the nature of sex and gender and those who believe that such views are oppressive and discriminatory towards the transgender community.

We may not get the judgment in this case for some time. However, if you would like to read more, you could do worse than cast an eye over Joshua Rosenberg's recent blog post (https://rozenberg.substack.com/p/can-you-believe-sex-is-immutable). From there, if you really want to grapple with the finer legal points, you will find a link to Ms Forstater’s skeleton argument.

Keep your eyes peeled

Thankfully, we don't have to make any decisions regarding the rights and wrongs of this case, or the moral and societal issues it throws up. However, we certainly look forward to reading with interest the EAT’s judgment when it is finally published in the months to come.

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