Arts council officer ‘is hounded out of her job amid toxic transphobia row’
- Denise Fahmy, 55, says she was called transphobic over support of LGB Alliance
- Read more: Health Secretary calls on NHS quangos to ban diversity officers
A senior official at Britain’s biggest arts funding quango claims she was wrongly branded transphobic and hounded out of her job in a toxic row over women’s rights.
Denise Fahmy said she was ‘harassed and victimised’ in a vitriolic campaign waged against her at Arts Council England (ACE), which received £900 million from taxpayers to fund arts projects last year.
The 55-year-old said staff circulated a petition against her and other ‘gender criticals’ on the quango’s intranet website which was signed by 100 people. She said she was signed off with stress over the hate campaign.
Now she plans to take legal action in an employment tribunal against the funding body where she worked as a visual arts officer for 15 years.
She said: ‘I have seen too many people’s careers and their mental health ruined by spurious allegations of transphobia… there is real fear in the arts.’
Denise Fahmy, 55, said she was ‘harassed and victimised’ in a vitriolic campaign waged against her at Arts Council England after defending the LGB Alliance
The LGB Alliance was granted £9,000 by ACE last year to make a film for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee but it was withdrawn after an outcry over claims of transphobia
On a crowd-funding page, Ms Fahmy said the row started after ACE pulled funding to the LGB Alliance, a lesbian and gay rights charity accused of having an anti-trans agenda.
The charity was granted £9,000 last year to make a film for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee but it was withdrawn after an outcry over claims of transphobia from ACE staff who said the LGB Alliance was a ‘glorified hate group’ that had ‘neo-Nazi’ supporters.
Fahmy claims at a meeting of 400 staff last April, a senior executive said it had been ‘a mistake’ to give the funding to a ‘divisive organisation with a history of anti-trans exclusionary activity’.
Ms Fahmy said she challenged the man, saying his stance went against free speech.
She said: ‘I was deeply shocked at how biased he was, a respected gatekeeper at the very top of a public funding body, one that distributed £943 million to the Arts in 2021-22.’
She complained to ACE chairman Sir Nick Serota and Culture Secretary Michelle Donelan but it was not upheld.
She said she hoped her legal case would show up ‘institutional discrimination from senior public servants, trustees and a government department, against gender-critical people’.
LGB Alliance has strongly denied it is transphobic.
The organisation, set up four years ago, boasts of being the only UK charity fighting exclusively for lesbian, gay and bisexual rights. But this has left it open to allegations it is ‘exclusionary’.
The Free Speech Union’s Toby Young said Ms Fahmy’s case ‘highlights how captured the arts are by gender identity ideology and how little tolerance there is for anyone who dissents from that dogma’.
He added: ‘As a taxpayer-funded organisation, ACE shouldn’t be taking sides in what is a highly charged, ongoing public debate.’
Kate Barker, LGB Alliance chief executive, said Ms Fahmy was ‘drowned out by the voices of intolerance who will not accept any disagreement with their cult-like views’.
An ACE spokesperson said: ‘We are not able to comment on ongoing legal cases.’
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