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The case

We acted for the charity Mermaids in a challenge to the charitable status of LGB Alliance, on the basis that the narrowness of LGB Alliance’s position on the issue of gender identity, and the way in which they promote it (including through political lobbying), prevent them from being an educational charity as defined in the Charities Act 2011.  

The claim concerned the extent to which the Charity Commission is required to look beyond the words on the page when assessing potential registrants’ charitable objects. The hearing took place in the First Tier Tribunal over six days in September and November 2022; it was live-streamed and attracted considerable public interest.  

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The outcome

The Tribunal ultimately held that Mermaids lacked standing to bring the claim – but the two-judge panel said that, had they had to rule on the substantive question of whether or not LGB Alliance could properly have charitable status, they would have been split 50/50. There was unanimous criticism of LGB Alliance in the judgment, which accepted Mermaids’ argument that the Alliance’s online output has at times gone beyond the boundaries of civilised discourse.   

It is anticipated that the outcome will have implications for the Charity Commission’s approach to registration applications. The judgment also raised real questions for the Charity Commission about LGB Alliance’s status, and emphasised that it will have to monitor the charity’s conduct going forward.