A domestic violence charity’s policy of only housing women has led to its funding being cut by the council after more than 25 years.
RISE, an independent charity based in Brighton and Hove, had its £5 million contract dropped after an equalities impact assessment (EIA) deemed it not “inclusive” enough. An online petition to reverse the decision has gathered more than 27,000 signatures.
In 2009, Brighton Council withdrew thousands of pounds of funding from a care home for elderly Christians because of its religious beliefs on homosexuality. The funding was restored after legal action for religious discrimination backed by The Christian Institute.
The EIA briefing on RISE claimed that it had “identified the need for a broader focus on inclusive service provision that caters for the needs of people with all the protected characteristics”.
The briefing added that the charity is “viewed as much more accessible to women and that current onsite provision is women-only”, and that there were “specific barriers to service experienced by the trans community”.
As a result, RISE’s funding will be given to charities Stonewater – provider of an “LGBTQ+ Safe Space” – and Victim Support, a Stonewall ‘Diversity Champion’.
Kiri Tunks, a spokesperson for Woman’s Place UK, said such a move “results in the loss of vital single-sex services for women”.
She added: “Service providers tell us that many women simply won’t seek support in mixed sex provision. Independent research shows that women prefer, and fare best from, independent woman-only services.”
RISE also said it was “disappointed” with the ‘move.
Writing for The Times, columnist Janice Turner blasted the decision. She warned that the promotion of radical gender ideology is making many refuges “afraid to remain openly single-sex”, highlighting reports of landlords being pressed to evict women-only groups.
Turner added that the CEO of one women’s refuge gave an account of the “constant threat hanging over” such institutions from trans activists.
She said that Stonewall “promotes ‘gender-neutral’ services not because they’re fairer but because it denies that biological sex matters”.
In Scotland, a number of women’s aid groups are considering legal action after their contracts were dropped over their female-only policies.
North Lanarkshire Council cancelled its £350,000 annual payment to the groups in favour of a new £1 million contract with offender rehabilitation group Sacro.
CEO of Scottish Women’s Aid, Dr Marsha Scott, was “appalled” by the council’s actions, and said the move is “a sad reflection of their complete lack of understanding of the complex nature of domestic abuse and an upsetting dismissal of decades of work”.
She added: “Given the severity of the situation, and the direct risk to the rights and protections of women and children experiencing domestic abuse, we are carefully considering the legal options available to us.”
In 2009, a Brighton care home for elderly Christians took legal action against Brighton Council for religious discrimination. The case was backed by The Christian Institute’s legal defence fund.
Pilgrim Homes won back thousands of pounds of funding withdrawn by the local council because of its religious beliefs on homosexuality.
The Council wanted the care home to ask its elderly Christian residents about their sexual orientation every three months, use images of homosexuals in its promotional literature and show a Stonewall presentation on ‘gay rights’ to staff.
When managers explained that to comply with the demands would unduly distress the elderly residents and undermine the home’s Christian ethos, the Council accused the care home of “institutionalised homophobia” and pulled £13,000 of funding.