Now that the BBC's links with Stonewall have been exposed by one of its own journalists, Stephen Nolan, it is perhaps not too surprising that the BBC has reacted by withdrawing from Stonewall's 'Diversity Champions' programme.
The programme gets companies to pay Stonewall so that Stonewall can tell them how to promote its own peculiar brand of LGBT ideology in the workplace. Then these companies are given a rating and are placed on Stonewall's Workplace Equality Index. The BBC also announced that it is withdrawing from this index.
It makes interesting reading to see who is on Stonewall's top 100 list of companies and institutions. Holding pride of place at no 1 is the University of Newcastle. A number of NHS trusts also feature and I'm sure patients who are stuck on waiting lists will be delighted to know that NHS money is being paid to please Stonewall. Who needs doctors when you can have diversity officers?!
There are several other universities featured, as well as police forces, the British Army and the RAF.
Of course, getting a Stonewall award is perceived as a bonus for the big corporations – Vodafone, Credit Suisse, Bank of America, Barclays, Aviva, Moody's, KPMG, Fujitsu, Sainsbury's and Enterprise all get their places in the top 100.
It is also fascinating that while the Welsh government (and the National Assembly for Wales, Cardiff University, Swansea University, the University of South Wales group and Public Health Wales) is high up on the list, the Scottish government and all Scottish universities are absent from the list.
Is this an indication that the Scottish institutions are particularly homophobic or that there is something in the water in Wales? Or is it just that they are not as gullible as the top 100?
Stonewall of course is not happy about the BBC's withdrawal, calling it a "shame" and claiming that it is "shocking" that organisations are being pressured into rolling back support for LGBTQ+ employees. They back this up by their own research which of course shows just how much Stonewall is needed – and how Stonewall alone can protect LGBTQ+ people.
And there you see both the genius and deceit of Stonewall's position. If you don't support them then you are for discriminating against LGBT+ people and well on the way to being responsible for their deaths! Such hyperbolic language is useful for emotional bullying but far removed from reality. Recently the creator of the TV series Transparent claimed that "trans people are in the middle of a holocaust". Apart from the disgraceful demeaning of those who actually suffered because of the Holocaust, the comment reflects a dishonest and hyped-up rhetoric of the sort that Stonewall is also not ashamed to use.
The BBC said it withdrew because of the appearance that it was being influenced (i.e. dominated) by one lobbying group. Stonewall has set itself up as the thought police of LGBT rights, but there are other groups – such as the LGB Alliance – who would disagree.
The extent of Stonewall's monopoly on our civic institutions was seen in a report in The Times this weekend in which the former Prime Minister's director of legislative affairs, Nikki da Costa, claimed that Stonewall was the only organisation which had a direct line to the Prime Minister. Boris Johnson's wife also spoke at a pro-Stonewall Conservative LGBT event in Manchester this year. Da Costa claimed that Stonewall had influenced the conversion therapy consultation while other voices were excluded.
And therein lies the problem. If the Stonewall scheme was just about corporate, government and academic virtue signalling then it might be seen as relatively harmless. The amounts of money involved are not great – although they all add up to a nice little earner for Stonewall. But the trouble is that Stonewall is also purchasing influence and claiming a monopoly on who should determine what is right and wrong.
This absolutizing of Stonewall's ideology should cause us real concerns, not least because those of us who do not share in it are automatically labelled heretics. When this is backed up by the power of government, academia, the capitalist corporations and the media, then it becomes really dangerous - which is why the BBC's withdrawal from Stonewall's programme is good news and perhaps a sign of better things to come.
What has this to do with the Church? We do not argue for discrimination against LGBTQ+ people in the workplace. Such discrimination is shameful, wrong and rightly illegal. What we argue against is discrimination 'for' – which inevitably leads to discrimination 'against' other groups. Why are the police spending money on having rainbow cars? Why do NHS trusts have diversity officers who limit themselves to what Stonewall defines as diverse? What about those of us who publicly disagree with Stonewall's ideology? Should we, in the name of equality and diversity, be banned from speaking on the BBC?
Stonewall's ideology is of course covered by the usual mishmash of trite phrases. One that struck me in particular in their statement was: "We imagine a world where all of us are free to be ourselves and can live our lives to the full." This obsession with the self is illogical and harmful. What if being free to be yourself is harmful – both to you and to others? What if you feel that being yourself means you are violent, or racist, or misogynistic, or sexually perverse, or incestuous or greedy? Should we be 'free to be ourselves'?
The response immediately comes: 'how dare you equate being LGBTQ+ with these things?' But that is not what I am doing. Stonewall has made an ideological and philosophical statement that all of us are to be free to be ourselves. Do they mean it or not? Do they mean 'all'? Or are they placing some limits and boundaries? Unless they have descended into a hellish insanity, they will of course place such limits and – so then the question arises – whose limits? Why should Stonewall get to determine who can, and cannot, be free to be themselves and live their lives to the full?
There is only one way for human beings to live our lives to the full. It is not to be ourselves – because our selves are the main part of the problem. Paul gives a list of what 'being one's self' meant for some in the Corinthian church – incidentally a list that Stonewall would probably want me prosecuted for citing in public! (1 Corinthians 6:9-10). Self is far too often shallow, selfish and sinful. We all need to be saved from ourselves. And that is possible - "But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God" (1 Corinthians 6:11).
Stonewall's ideology is a deadly, destructive ideology that empties. The way to fullness of life is described by Jesus – "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life and have it to the full" (John 10:10). If only our companies, universities and institutions, many of which were founded on Christianity, would get on board with that message, they might actually do some good!
David Robertson works as an evangelist with churches in Sydney, Australia, where he runs the ASK Project. He blogs at The Wee Flea.