More than 300 public bodies pay over £1 million ($1.4 million) each year to LGBTQ+ charity Stonewall in membership fees and payments for other programmes, it has been revealed.
While many charities rely on public bodies for parts of their revenue, Stonewall has received increasing scrutiny in recent months after it reportedly gave organisations controversial advice such as replacing the word “mother” with “parent who has given birth.”
Women and equalities minister Liz Truss has also reportedly told officials that she was concerned government departments’ memberships with Stonewall were not good value for money.
Campaign group TaxPayers’ Alliance on Monday published the result of its investigation, which found that 327 public bodies had paid more than £3.1 million ($4.3 million) to Stonewall over a three-year period.
Among the 397 public bodies listed on Stonewall’s website in May as members of its Diversity Champions scheme, 327 responded to a Freedom of Information request by TaxPayers’ Alliance before Aug. 4, the cut-off date for the report.
The data showed that these public sector organisations paid more than £2.57 million ($3.57 million) in membership fees between 2018–19 and 2020–21.
An additional £532,099 ($738,766) was spent on conferences, events, and training programmes such as the “Unconscious Bias Train the Trainer” workshop, the “Queering Children’s Literature” event, and the “Trans Allies” programme.
Housing organisation Homes England has paid the most, at £45,942 ($63,786), more than half of which was spent on the Allies training programmes over two years.
Among government departments, the former Foreign and Commonwealth Office was the biggest patron, paying £19,012 ($26,396) for membership and additional programmes.
Stonewall received a total of £466,065 ($647,085) from the NHS and related bodies, and 58 health service organisations were members of its Diversity Champions scheme.
The investigation also found that 86 universities—roughly two-thirds of all UK universities—were members of the Diversity Champions scheme for some or all of the three-year period.
Apart from revenues from membership fees and programmes, TaxPayers’ Alliance said it has previously found that Stonewall had received £2,616,102 ($3,632,196) in grants from government bodies between 2015–16 and 2018–19.
James Roberts, political director of TaxPayers’ Alliance, said pubic bodies shouldn’t pay “pressure groups like Stonewall.”
“Taxpayers should not be subsidising campaigners who use those privileges to lecture and lobby,” Roberts said in a statement.
“After years of handing over millions, some officials seem determined to prop up pressure groups like Stonewall with taxpayers’ cash, despite ministers urging against it,” he said.
“Public sector bodies often say they have no more fat to trim but with the spending review on the horizon, it’s clear that savings can be made by ending payments like these.”
In an email to The Epoch Times, a Stonewall spokesperson said that “it is completely normal and appropriate for national charities to engage with public sector organisations to support them in making their workplaces inclusive for lesbian, gay, bi, trans, and queer staff.”
The spokesperson added that Stonewall is “very proud of [its] work with more than 850 organisations to help create inclusive working environments for their LGBTQ+ staff.”