Gender-critical civil servants were compared to “Nazis” and the “far-Right” by fellow officials in a meeting discussing diversity, The Telegraph can disclose.
Members of the civil service group Sex Equality and Equity Network (SEEN) were targeted for their views on women’s rights, with one civil servant accusing the group of wanting to “destroy” the LGBT+ community.
SEEN believes “that biological sex is binary and immutable… and that biological sex must not be conflated with, or replaced by, the concepts of gender or gender identity”. It is the first Whitehall group set up to represent gender-critical staff.
A survey of 305 SEEN members from 64 departments found that 41 per cent of female respondents and 30 per cent of male respondents said they had “witnessed or experienced bullying, harassment or discrimination” for holding “gender-critical views, or for not believing in gender identity”.
The survey, conducted earlier this year, cited reported examples of bullying of gender-critical officials, including “open criticism or insults on staff intranets or chat platforms”, “verbal abuse, including shouting”, and “being investigated”.
‘Views that resemble Nazism’
On March 17 2023, civil servants from several diversity networks in the Ministry of Justice, including from SEEN, met online to discuss diversity and inclusion.
An official who was on the call told The Telegraph that members of SEEN were accused of “holding views that resemble Nazism”.
As the call took place, written messages were posted online by participants.
After a SEEN member defended themselves against the Nazi accusations, a civil servant wrote: “As a gay black man.. I feel that I have some small authority on the equivalence.”
He continued: “It [sic] strange that there’s no equivalence and yet the exact same arguments are used ‘How dare you call me a racist. I’m the truly oppressed here.’”
One comment, with five “likes” from supportive civil servants, stated: “I think any network wanting to work with SEEN has to balance it by the fear the LGBT+ community would have of that joining [sic] and I would also advise looking at their private fb [Facebook] groups because it is not only the LGBT+ community that they wish to destroy…”
Another official wrote to a SEEN member: “if you’re actively advocating for the exclusion of people, then it’s going to be a hard sell”, and a further commenter claimed they “found a recent SEEN event… incredibly damaging and upsetting”.
Following these remarks, a member of SEEN wrote: “I’m leaving this call now, this is totally unacceptable”.
No formal complaint made
Gender-critical beliefs are protected against discrimination under the Equality Act 2010 and the SEEN network is part of various faith-based groups in the Civil Service, including networks for Christian and Muslim staff.
A 2023 survey of A:Gender, a civil service network that supports “trans and intersex staff across Government”, asked: “If a colleague were to express their belief that “sex is binary and immutable”, would this create an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for you?”
Some 87 per cent of respondents said “yes”, 11 per cent said “not sure” and the rest said “no” or “yes and no”.
A government source said no formal complaint had been made about the comments on the call.