I organised a book launch for 2nd December 2022 with my co-editor Al Peters. Our book is called ‘Transpositions: a personal journey into gender criticism’. We invited men and women to send us their stories about how they came to join the debate about sex versus gender. These people would be loosely identified as ‘gender critical’ – i.e. they believe that sex is real and important and must not be overshadowed or even replaced entirely by ‘gender identity ideology’. It is not ‘hateful’ to hold this belief, as was confirmed by the Employment Appeal Tribunal in June 2021 in the case of Forstater.
I set up a page with Eventbrite UK to sell tickets for the event – we needed to raise some money to pay for the room hire and catering.
On 27th October, Eventbrite sent me an email saying:
"We’re reaching out regarding your event listing, Launch of 'Transpositions' - personal journeys into gender criticism.
We have determined that your event is not permitted on the Eventbrite platform as it violates our Community Guidelines and Terms of Service, specifically our policy on Hateful, Dangerous, or Violent Content and Events. As a result, your event has been unpublished. Please be aware that severe or repeated violations of our guidelines may result in the suspension or termination of your Eventbrite account.
We have refunded all attendees who purchased tickets to your event, if necessary. To see a list of all the orders for your event, cancel tickets, or communicate directly with any ticket buyers, click here.
Please reply directly to this email if you have any further questions. We appreciate your understanding and thank you in advance for your cooperation."
I sent several emails in reply, asking for urgent clarification about how exactly my event had violated either the Community Guidelines or Terms of Service. My emails were ignored. However, on 2nd November its legal counsel based in California ‘reached out’ to me after reading an article I had written in The Critic.
We met for remote discussions on 3rd November and I was assured that by 7th November I would be given ‘timescales’ for a ‘second review’ of my event – the first review having confirmed it promoted violent and hateful content etc.
By 4pm on 7th November 2022 I had heard nothing further, so I am proceeding with legal action.
The first step will be my solicitors sending a letter before action. I am delighted to say that I am being represented by Elliot Hammer of Branch Austin McCormick solicitors. Mr Hammer represented Sonia Appleby in her successful action against the Tavistock.
What do I want the court to do?
I want the court to confirm that what Eventbrite have done is unlawful.
I think there is a clear breach of the Equality Act here, in that my event was removed from the platform because it was decided it promoted ‘violent’ or ‘hateful’ content. It does not. It was removed because people complained – falsely – that it was ‘transphobic’.
There is also a potential remedy in public law by arguing that Eventbrite (a) exercises public functions in operating a regulated payment platform, and (b) the decision here to revoke services was procedurally improper, illegal, irrational, and/or disproportionate in the context of a human rights breach.
I assert that the behaviour of Eventbrite raises really significant issues of public interest. Platforms such as this claim to be operating as a ‘public good’ – Eventbrite relied on breach of its ‘community standards’ to remove my event. However, Evenbrite creates its own guidelines, with no public consultation or public scrutiny. The boundaries between private interests and efforts to impose an organisation’s own moral code on the wider public is becoming blurred. This has serious implications for the health of our democracy.
My point is simple. If Eventbrite wish to operate in the UK, it must obey UK laws. In particular it cannot ignore the will of Parliament which has made it clear via the Equality Act and the EAT decision in Forstater, that ‘gender critical’ belief is worthy of respect in a democratic society
I believe my claim raises interesting and important issues that go beyond just the Equality Act. I would be very grateful for any support you can give, either by donating money to this fund, sharing it online or just signing the petition and talking about it with other people.