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The Government has pulled out of Stonewall diversity training, The Telegraph can reveal, as an exodus over its transgender advice continues.
The Cabinet Office confirmed that it and the Government Equalities Office have ended membership of the controversial LGBT charity's Diversity Champions scheme.
Officials quietly left last year over “value for money” concerns, but the move has only just emerged in the most high-profile blow for the charity so far.
It comes as Liz Truss, the women and equalities minister, suggested all Government departments cut ties over growing fears that the scheme lobbies for workplace policies that risk being at odds with the 2010 Equality Act.
The programme counts 250 Whitehall departments and public bodies among its 850 members, who pay at least £2,500 a year for guidance on pronouns and gender-neutral facilities.
Employers are urged to drop gendered terms like “mother” for a spot on Stonewall's coveted equality league table.
Earlier this month, the Ministry of Justice triggered an expected “exodus” of Whitehall departments from the scheme, with Robert Buckland, the Justice Secretary, drawing up withdrawal plans over disquiet that its “dubious” trans tips stifle free speech.
In recent weeks, human rights watchdog the Equalities and Human Rights Commission, Channel 4, Ofsted, employment dispute service Acas and a string of police forces, councils and universities have all confirmed they have cut ties with Stonewall.
Ms Truss, whose equalities department falls under the Cabinet Office, is understood to be concerned that taxpayers are still funding multiple Government agencies to subscribe to the scheme, including the Home Office and Foreign Office.
As the central arm of the Government, the Cabinet Office is understood to be responsible for deciding whether other departments now follow suit and leave.
Last month, in a landmark report, the barrister Akua Reindorf accused Stonewall of “potential illegalities” in its advice to Essex University, and claimed its trans policy “states the law as Stonewall would prefer it to be, rather than the law as it is”.
Legal experts and women’s rights groups claim that Stonewall’s guidance downplays legal protections for biological sex by allowing male-born trans women to enter female lavatories and changing rooms, and silences employees who disagree.
Maya Forstater, co-founder of human rights group Sex Matters, welcomed the Cabinet Office’s exit. “Government departments should not be paying lobby groups to police what their staff say and do,” she said.
“Stonewall has a clear political agenda to change the law based around gender identity, rather than sex, and they advance this through the Champions Scheme and Workplace Equality Index with government departments.
“This relationship was never appropriate and we hope that with the Cabinet Office leaving other government departments and public agencies will soon follow.”
A Government spokesman confirmed the civil service remains a Diversity Champions member. He said: "The Cabinet Office and Equality Hub support inclusive workplaces and, as has been the case for many years, departments work with a variety of external schemes.”
The Telegraph previously revealed that Stonewall advises organisations to replace the term mother with “parent who has given birth” to help boost their ranking on its equality leaderboard, and adopt gender-neutral language and pronouns.
The charity’s accounts show it received at least £2.6 million in government grants between 2015 and 2019, with the Department for Education the biggest spender - £934,424 - and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office the second at £660,028.
Stonewall said it is “very proud” of its work to promote LGBT-inclusive workplaces that tackle discrimination and prejudice.
A spokesman said: “As with every membership programme, organisations come and go depending on what works best for them at the time, but we’re pleased to say that our Diversity Champions programme is continuing to grow… by thirty organisations in total [this year].”