Former Supreme Court judge: ‘Laws are not there to regulate opinions’

A former Supreme Court judge has hit out at activists pushing for the law to criminalise the expression of beliefs they deem ‘offensive’.

Writing in The Times, Lord Jonathan Sumption said: “Laws are not there to regulate opinions — even ‘offensive’ ones.”

He highlighted Maya Forstater’s recent appeal where the judge ruled in her favour, stating that her ‘gender critical’ beliefs were protected under the Equality Act 2010. The former tax consultant lost her job in 2019 after tweeting that being female is a biological fact, not a feeling.

Same-sex marriage

In his ruling, Mr Justice Choudhury determined that Forstater’s employment tribunal was influenced by “personal reservations” about her views and that it was wrong to state that they were not “worthy of respect in a democratic society”.

Lord Sumption stated: “It was not enough that the beliefs in question were regarded as offensive, shocking or disturbing by other people.”

The former Supreme Court judge noted: “A divorced person is in law no longer married, but that does not prevent those who believe that a valid marriage is indissoluble from saying so. Same-sex marriages are in law true marriages, but people who decline to accept that are entitled to their opinion.

“Statutes such as these are not designed to regulate the personal beliefs or social courtesies of third parties.”


Commenting on her legal victory earlier this month, Forstater said: “I am delighted to have been vindicated. I lost my job simply for expressing a view that is true and important, and held by the great majority of people in this country: sex matters.

“Being a woman is a material reality. It is not a costume or a feeling. Institutions that pretend sex doesn’t matter become hostile places for women, in particular.”

The case will now go to a new tribunal to determine if her dismissal was “because of or related to” her protected belief.

Also see:


Law student cleared after uni ‘witch hunt’ for stating biological fact

Royal Academy of Arts apologises to artist it accused of ‘transphobia’

EHRC chief: Abuse for gender critical beliefs must end