A woman who lost her job after expressing views that biological sex cannot be changed has been awarded more than £100,000 after an employment tribunal found she experienced discrimination and victimisation at work.
Maya Forstater, a tax expert and feminist campaigner, said she was “happy it’s over and happy I got significant compensation” in an interview following the judgment.
Harry Potter author JK Rowling, who has been criticised for her own beliefs on the subject, was among those sending messages of support on social media.
Ms Forstater’s victory comes after a High Court judge ruled in June 2021 that her views on the “immutability of sex” are a “philosophical belief” protected by equality legislation and should be “tolerated in a pluralist society”.
In 2018, she was working as a consultant and visiting fellow at Washington-based think tank the Centre for Global Development (CGD). In the autumn of that year, she posted a number of tweets relating to her beliefs about sex – including that “male people are not women”.
In March 2019, her contract was not renewed.
Handing down their judgment on Friday, three judges at a London tribunal awarded Ms Forstater compensation of £91,500 and interest of £14,904.31.
The compensation is for loss of earnings, injury to feelings and aggravated damages.
Maya Forstater interview
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“I think it sends a message to employers that this is discrimination like any other discrimination and that the compensation can be significant,” Ms Forstater, who founded the Sex Matters campaign group, told The Times on Friday.
“Organisations are going to have to rethink all of their approach to equality and diversity to make sure they really are following the law and not just what activists tell them.”
In April 2021, Ms Forstater told Sky News: “The reality is there are two sexes. Girls grew up to be women, boys grew up to be men.
“They should be able to wear what they like, call themselves what they like, act however they like, but sex matters. Sex matters for healthcare, sex matters for other people’s privacy, it matters for how we understand the world, and it matters in organisations.”
These views are seen by some as deeply transphobic.
Rowling, who has previously voiced her support for Ms Forstater using the hashtag #IstandwithMaya on social media, wrote on Twitter following the ruling: “Congratulations to @MForstater, who receives over £100k in compensation from @cgdev, who were found to have discriminated against her due to her gender critical beliefs, which, as her case established, are worthy of respect in a democratic society. #SexMatters.”
Employment judge James Tayler originally had originally dismissed Ms Forstater’s claim, but High Court judge Mr Justice Choudhury later said that judgment had “erred in law”.
However, Mr Chowdhury did add in the ruling that: “This judgment does not mean that those with gender-critical beliefs can ‘mis-gender’ trans persons with impunity.
In a statement following the compensation ruling, a CGD spokesperson said the case will now “come to a close”.
The statement added: “CGD has and will continue to strive to maintain a workplace that is welcoming, safe and inclusive to all.
“The resolution of this case will allow us once again to focus exclusively on our mission: reducing global poverty and inequality through economic research that drives better policy and practice.”