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  • Writer's pictureRowan Fortune

An Open Letter to the HoL on Transphobia

The following is an open letter to the British House of Lords on their decision to invite Graham Linehan to talk to them on the topic of free speech. Please use any portion of this email to help you write your own. (Although vary the wording of your response to increase its effectiveness.)

To Whom It May Concern,

It is with sadness that I recently discovered that Graham Linehan will be given the honour of an invite to speak on the important subject of free speech to the House of Lords (HoLs).

Graham Linehan is not a man who exercises free speech, he is one who exercises hate speech and practices harassment. It is beyond conception that the HoLs is unaware of his notorious profile of sustained transphobia. This has recently included intruding on a Lesbian dating app to gather pictures of private users and share them, without permission, to be mocked on online transphobic forums.

He has even been given a police warning in the past for harassing a transgender woman. And he was correctly banned from Twitter not because he exercised his free speech, but because he broke the community standards. Does the HoLs believe that such standards are themselves a violation of civil liberties? Would it hold itself to no standards whatsoever?

Asking such a man to speak on this subject is deeply insulting to trans people; as someone who is nonbinary, I do not believe you would ask for a known racist or misogynist to speak to free speech. The only conclusion is that your institution endorses hatred against people like me.

Moreover, such an invitation does nothing to address the real concerns of free speech that ought to be addressed in our society. For example, in workers speaking out against employers; in the abuse of libel and slander laws by the rich; in the concentration of media power into a tiny number of highly unrepresentative hands; in the demonisation and victimisation of the Muslim community under the shadow of the dysfunctional Prevent, and so on and so on.

By inviting such a self-publicist and known harasser in lieu of anyone who could speak to any of the above, you make a mockery of your institution and its public role. Worse, you mark yourselves out as complicit in the actions of this man, and in furthering both his profile and therefore his potential to abuse more vulnerable people.

If such an invitation is made good, it will be a permanent moral stain on everyone involved.


Dr. Rowan Fortune

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