Ministry of Justice not renewing membership of Stonewall diversity scheme, ITV News understands

ITV News Political Correspondent Shehab Khan has the details

ITV News understands the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) will not be renewing its membership of Stonewall's 'diversity champions' scheme when it expires next month.

Following a review, the department concluded membership no longer represents good value for money for the MoJ. 

Stonewall, the country's leading LGBT+ charity, describes the scheme as "the leading employers' programme for ensuring all LGBTQ+ staff are free to be themselves in the workplace."

It follows a report in The Times that equalities minister, Liz Truss, was encouraging government departments to withdraw from the scheme. Stonewall says the claim is untrue.

Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) recently dropped its membership of the scheme too, citing "value for money".

Organisations pay Stonewall an annual fee to join the scheme and they are then helped to review, build and fine tune their internal policies on LGBT issues.

On the news the MoJ would not be renewing its membership, a spokesperson for Stonewall said: "As with every membership programme, organisations come and go depending on what works best for them at the time, and it’s great that some organisations feel that they can continue this important work on their own.

"Since we set up the Diversity Champions programme in 2001, many large employers have developed major internal programmes to promote diversity and inclusion across their staff and make the workplace better for LGBTQ+ people."

ITV News understands the MoJ will continue to work with other external organisations to ensure LGBT+ inclusion across the organisation.

People take part at a Black Trans Lives Matter march on the day Pride in London was due to take place in June 2020. Credit: PA

It comes as the charity has received criticism from some groups and figures for its position on the rights of transgender people.

Co-founder and former Conservative MP Matthew Parris wrote in the Sunday Times that Stonewall had become "tangled up in the trans issue".

But Stonewall's chief executive Nancy Kelley said she was "really comfortable with the decision that we made years ago to become trans-inclusive.”

She added that the amount of media focus on trans rights could prevent members of the public from seeing how much work Stonewall does for lesbian, gay and bisexual people.

The transgender flag where the colours represent blue (boys) pink (girls) and white for those transitioning or intersex. Credit: Pride Cymru

It comes after the Women and Equalities Committee earlier this month heard trans people had been “systematically discriminated against” in gender identity services and the current “gatekeeper-based system” should be scrapped.

Stonewall's statement on the MoJ's decision not to renew continued: "While there have been attempts by campaign groups to claim that the government is mandating that all government departments withdraw from the Diversity Champions programme, an Equalities Minister has confirmed that these decisions are delegated to individual departments."

The charity said the scheme continues to grow and take on new members.

The statement added: "At Stonewall, we'll continue to fight until every lesbian, gay, bi, trans and queer people is free to be themselves, wherever they are."