Trans boss accused of ‘heresy hunt’ against gender-critical employee

Stock pic of employment tribunal folder
Stock pic of employment tribunal folder

A transgender woman who heads a Scottish rape charity has been accused of presiding over a “heresy hunt” against a former employee who expressed gender-critical beliefs.

Roz Adams, a support counsellor, claims she suffered discrimination when her views on gender became known to senior colleagues at the Edinburgh Rape Crisis Centre [ERCC], including the centre’s chief executive Mridul Wadhwa.

At an employment tribunal in Edinburgh on Wednesday, lawyer Naomi Cunningham, representing Ms Adams, claimed the ERCC mounted an “inquisition” after a female rape survivor said she would feel uncomfortable talking to a man and asked to know the biological sex of her support worker.

Ms Adams said she was accused of being “transphobic” after suggesting in an email that they tell her that one volunteer was “a woman at birth who now identifies as being non-binary”.

‘Hostile attitude’ to sex-realist beliefs

It emerged at a previous hearing in January that the centre refused to support the response and instead told the woman that it “does not have any men on their volunteer team”.

On Wednesday, Ms Cunningham told the tribunal Ms Wadhwa held a “hostile attitude towards sex-realist beliefs” and used the incident to instigate a nine-month disciplinary procedure against Ms Adams.

Ms Wadhwa, who was born male, was among a number of high-profile transgender people named by JK Rowling in a social media post this week in protest at the introduction of Scotland’s new hate crime laws.

Ms Cunningham told the tribunal that an internal investigation into Ms Adams was a “heresy hunt” and “unequivocally and blatantly, an inquisition into the claimant’s state of mind and the state of the claimant’s beliefs”.

Ms Adams previously said she was “horrified” when she received a letter advising she was being investigated for gross misconduct and faced the possibility of immediate dismissal with no pay.

She took sick leave but, after weeks of worrying, was told she was being investigated for “misconduct” and would face only a warning. She eventually resigned in March 2023.

Chief executive ‘was not controlling mind’

A lawyer for the ERCC denied the claims of a witch hunt and said Ms Adams’s conduct had contravened the ERCC’s policies. He insisted that Ms Wadhwa was not the “controlling mind” of disciplinary action taken against Ms Adams.

At the hearing in January, Miren Sagues, 33, a former board member at ERCC, described Ms Wadhwa as an “amazing woman” who “respected people’s boundaries”.

The tribunal will make a decision at a future date.

Police Scotland has said no action will be taken against Ms Rowling amid calls for her to be charged under Humza Yousaf’s controversial hate crime law which came into effect on Monday, despite fears over its impact on freedom of speech rights.

Scotland’s Hate Crime and Public Order Act introduces offences for threatening or abusive behaviour which is intended to stir up hatred, which in Scotland previously applied only to race. They carry a possible seven-year prison sentence.

Ms Rowling had protested on X, formerly Twitter, saying the legislation was “wide open to abuse by activists who wish to silence” gender-critical feminists.

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