Allison Bailey is a distinguished criminal defence barrister, a feminist, a lesbian, a lifelong campaigner for racial equality, lesbian, gay, and bisexual rights. She is also one of the co-founders of LGB Alliance.

Early years

Born in 1970 to Jamaican parents, Allison grew up in Cowley, Oxfordshire.

In the late 1980’s, when Allison was 17 years old, she realised that she was same-sex attracted and came out a lesbian. This was despite it being a very difficult time for young people to be openly lesbian, gay or bisexual in the UK due to the introduction of Section 28 of the Local Government Act 1988. Allison herself describes the act as “an historic act of wickedness that left young LGB teenagers like me with no resources, support or guidance whatsoever. I bear the scars of that abandonment to this day.

Despite the act, Allison went on to earn a first class undergraduate degree at University of Manchester before going on to study for postgraduate law qualifications. She was called to the Bar of England and Wales as a barrister by Middle Temple in 2001.

Having practised for over for over twenty years at the Criminal Bar, Allison retired in March 2023.

Into the limelight

Before retirement Allison worked at Garden Court Chambers where she took on a wide array of cases, often representing marginalised individuals and groups who have faced discrimination or injustice.

In March 2020, Allison made the headlines when she took the unprecedented step of announcing she would be bringing her own chambers to court along with LGBT+ charity Stonewall Equality Limited. The move came after a protracted dispute with her Garden Court chambers over issues of discrimination and systemic bias.

The case

In 2018, Allison had complained to her chambers when they signed up to Stonewall’s Diversity Champions Programme (DCP), which gives training and guidance on how to be “inclusive employers”. But Allison, along with many other lesbians and gay men, objected to the charity’s stance on trans issues, which included self-ID into categories like lesbian even if a person was biologically of the opposite sex.

In 2019, as a result of Stonewall and other trans rights groups influence in society, Allison helped found the campaigning group LGB Alliance, who advocate for the rights of the LGB community.

Allison says of the time: “In retribution for this, Stonewall Equality Limited (Stonewall), co-ordinated with the barristers’ chambers of which I am a member to put me under investigation. This was an attempt by Stonewall to intimidate and silence me and others critical of its malign influence in British life: workplaces, schools, universities, the police, the judiciary, the Crown Prosecution Service, and all government departments.”

When Allison launched her legal action, she did so not only to seek justice for herself but also to try and stop Stonewall from policing free speech via its Diversity Champions scheme.

In July 2022 the ruling in Allison’s case Bailey v Stonewall and Garden Court Chambers found that she had been victimised and discriminated against by her employer for expressing gender critical beliefs. Such was the oppressiveness of Garden Court’s actions against her, she was awarded aggravated damages of £22,000. Such awards are only granted where a discriminator’s actions are particularly unnecessary, high-handed or oppressive.

Allison’s case against Stonewall for causing a basic contravention of the Equality Act 2010 was dismissed. In September 2022 Allison lodged an appeal against the dismissal. The Employment Appeal Tribunal starts today. You can follow the appeal live at Tribunal Tweets (TT) and read TT’s previous coverage of the original case on Substack.

Further watching

Watch and listen to Allison’s Keynote Speech at the LGB Alliance Conference in 2021 to learn more about her story and the importance of LGB advocacy.

Sources

https://allisonbailey.co.uk/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allison_Bailey

https://unherd.com/2022/07/how-allison-bailey-crushed-stonewall/

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