Stonewall is a
gayrights campaign organisation in the United Kingdomnamed after the "Stonewall Inn" of Stonewall riotsfame. It was formed in 1989 by Labour Party activists and others lobbyingagainst section 28of the Local Government Act. Sir Ian McKellenand Michael Cashmanwere among founders. Stonewall GB is based in London. Stonewall Scotland has offices in Edinburgh and Stonewall Cymru is in Cardiff and Bangor.
Although Stonewall was a lobbying organisation rather than membership organisation, it has diversified into policy development for the rights of
lesbian, gayand bisexual people since Labour came to power.
Its most high profile work was backing legal test cases in the
European Court of Human Rights. These included:
*teenager Chris Morris, who successfully challenged the unequal
age of consentlaws.
*Duncan Lustig-Prean, Jeanette Smith, Graham Grady, John Beckett who successfully challenged the ban on
gays in the military.
*Lisa Grant, who sued her employer,
South West Trains, for equal payand benefits.
However, in the last four years it has seen successes in parliamentary lobbying. Under
Angela Mason(1992 to 2002) who was awarded an OBE "for services to homosexual rights", it saw amendments to the 2002 Adoption and Children Bill which treated lesbian and gay couples in the same way as heterosexuals. Under its current Ben Summerskillit was in successful parliamentary campaigns to:
Section 28of the Local Government Act (2003),
* recognise anti-gay hate crimes, through the
Criminal Justice Act 2003,
* introduce the
Civil Partnership Act 2004giving gay and lesbian couples a legal framework equivalent to civil marriage,
* introduce the 2007 Sexual Orientation Regulations, protections against discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation in the provision of goods and services secured through the
Equality Act 2006.
* introduce an offence of incitement to homophobic hatred in the 2008 Criminal Justice Act, matching existing protections around race and religion.
Stonewall works with 400 employers providing advice to lesbian and gay staff. These include
IBM, Credit Suisse, the Inland Revenueand the Royal Navy. An Education for All campaign launched in 2005, with 70 other organisations, to tackle homophobic bullying in schools.
Activists such as
Peter Tatchellhave accused Stonewall of endorsing discrimination by holding champagne receptions for celebrities and politicians supported by HSBC, despite its being sued by Peter Lewis in 2005 for unfair dismissal on grounds of sexual orientation. Lewis did not win his case and expressed gratitude to Stonewall for its support. Act-UP AIDSactivists have also criticised Stonewall for endorsing HIVdrug manufacturers, including Glaxo SmithKline through its Diversity Champions initiative.
One of Stonewall's fiercest critics is
Daily Mailcolumnist, Richard Littlejohn. It is his assertion that Stonewall has become "a byword for intolerance, bigotry and bullying".
* [http://www.stonewall.org.uk/ Stonewall official site]
* [http://www.stonewallcymru.org.uk/ Stonewall Cymru]
* [http://www.stonewallscotland.org.uk Stonewall Scotland]
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