Twitter is silencing Gay Men
My appeal for freedom of speech in online gay politics
Equality and Human Rights Commission,
Mr. Elon Musk
Re: Account “Dennis Noel Kavanagh (@Jebadoo2)
Dear Twitter Support,
Introduction and outline
1. I write in respect of the above account which was permanently suspended on 10.04.2022 following what appears to be an orchestrated and homophobic attack on the principle of free speech in the context of the ongoing gender debate. This letter constitutes my case for the reinstatement of my account on the basis that my participation in such debates should not be contingent on my support of biology denial / gender ideology.
2. I ask that this letter be placed in its entirety before your new majority shareholder, Mr. Elon Musk, who I understand has grave concerns as to your company’s claims to support the principle of freedom of speech sufficient to buy a stake of it to ensure that principle. He should be made aware please that the view I express in this letter as to your company suppressing “gender critical” opinions on Twitter are widely held in the United Kingdom and beyond.
3. Further, I make the point that my remarks on 09.04.2022 appear to have been deliberately and dishonestly represented by ideological opponents. I decline to name such opponents as I do not believe in “cancelling” or “pile ons” but you will no doubt have identified the leading accounts who make a habit of agitating for permanent suspensions rather than engage in free speech and debate.
4. As this matter touches on the vital and fundamental principle of freedom of speech, I shall be CC’ing this to statutory bodies who guarantee the protected characteristic of belief in respect of “gender critical” views (see Mr Justice Choudhury’s remarks in Forstater v GCD Europe & Others UKEAT/0105/20/JOJ) and such others as regulate the technology sector as appropriate in due course. I will also be making this letter public so people can judge for themselves the degree to which your platform can credibly claim to support freedom of speech particularly among gay men who do not subscribe to biology denial / gender ideology.
5. To set out the case most effectively I deal with matters in the following way:
(i) I will first set out the context of the debate and my place within it with reference to relevant free speech law in this area.
(ii) I will then deal with the tweets in questions and demonstrate why I am entitled to hold and express the view that fighting gender ideology is more difficult for the gay movement than our fight against HIV. I will further make the case that I am entitled to disagree with UK charities who support gender ideology and that I am entitled as a matter of free speech to use medically accurate terminology when discussing. You may find Redmond-Bate v Director of Public Prosecutions  HRLR 249 of assistance on this point.
(iii) In consequence of the above it will be become clear that the reports and public attacks on me and my account are made in bad faith based on a deliberate misreading of what I said. Many of the attacks brought to my attention also appear to me to be defamatory and to the extent your company now hosts them it appears to be “mixed up” in defamatory tortious behaviour such as would be required for any Norwich Pharmacal disclosure order.
Part I - General context of the gender debate
6. You will be aware that Western democracies are presently struggling with a number of issues arising from an unevidenced and novel belief that humans possess a gendered soul. Biology denial / gender ideology theory dictates that where such a soul is mismatched to human biology a lifetime of medicalisation is necessary and should be encouraged among children.
7. I am one of the many homosexuals who regard this belief as an existential attempt to medically correct homosexuality as gender non-conforming behaviour among the young correlates strongly with homosexuality. Evidence abounds for this proposition but was most clearly recognised in the case of Mrs S Appleby v The Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust (2204772/2019) in which the claimant raised homophobia as a driver for children being referred for lifelong medicalisation. The Times Newspaper reported on the wider circumstances of the case thus (emphasis added):
“So many potentially gay children were being sent down the pathway to change gender, two of the clinicians said there was a dark joke among staff that “soon there would be no gay people left. It feels like conversion therapy for gay children. One clinician said “I frequently had cases where people started identifying as trans after months of horrendous bullying for being gay. Young Lesbians considered at the bottom of the heap suddenly found they were really popular when they said they were trans”.
8. I trust the above rather speaks for itself but for the avoidance of doubt, I consider it my moral duty as an adult male homosexual (particularly a legally qualified one) to speak up against homophobia and to offer such protection as I can to children who are being medicalised because they are gay. More widely I regard biology denial / gender ideology as discordant with the law and fundamentally homophobic particularly insofar as it elides gender non conformity (which is common among gay people) with membership of the opposite sex. This seems to me no more than the recycling of an old homophobic trope to the effect gay men are “not real men”. I also regard the relentless focus on lesbians and compromising their sexual boundaries as a quintessentially heterosexual endeavour and one I oppose because it is simply an attack on female homosexuality. I also agree with the late Magdalen Berns that this is a manifestation of wider rape culture and male entitlement.
9. So you have the full context of my contributions to this debate you should be aware that I was the legal commentator at Lesbian and Gay News covering free speech/gender legal stories. I obviously write/speak on television on the subject and I am one of the three directors of the “Gay Men’s Network”, a not for profit company which engages in activities to advance and protect the interests of male homosexuals such as our recent contribution to the governments conversion therapy ban. I engage in all these activities without remuneration because I believe in advocating for homosexuals.
10. I also make the same point I did on GB news on 10.04.2022; the mass marketing and indoctrination of children into biology denial / gender ideology is placing enormous strains on gender clinics to the point trans people now face a service not fit for purpose as recognised in the 2020 Care Quality Commission report grading the Tavistock as “inadequate”. I believe in the protections for trans people according to law as per the Equality Act 2010 and regularly speak with gender critical / pro biological reality trans people as is obvious from my social media presence.
11. You will be aware that while my views on this subject are protected in law following Forstater, a censorious and anti-freedom of speech culture pervades gender with women subject to “cancellation” and attempts to force them from their jobs (frequently lesbians like Professor Kathleen Stock or barrister Allison Bailey which I regard as no coincidence). Those who subscribe to biology denial / gender ideology tend to subscribe to a philosophy espoused by the former gay rights (now trans only) charity “Stonewall” called “no debate”. This is a nakedly anti freedom of speech position that prefers to silence and cancel opponents often by misrepresenting their positions and falsely claiming such to be “hateful”. That context is particularly important given the subject of this letter.
Part II – The tweets complained of were a legitimate exercise of freedom of speech
12. On 10.04.2022 I expressed the opinion that I preferred fighting HIV (as an enemy of the gay movement) to the fight against gender. I further made criticism of two biology denier / gender ideology charities and I used medically accurate terms to describe serious and life changing surgery that my ideological opponents regard as appropriate for children. The case for my appeal is I am entitled to hold and express such views in accordance with Article 9 (freedom of thought, conscience and religion) and 10 (Freedom of expression) of the Human Rights Act 1998 as supplemented by the caselaw on section 10 (protected characteristic of belief) of the Equality Act 2010.
13. It seems to me trite law and a basic principle of freedom of speech that I am entitled to hold a view as to an ideology and further I am entitled (particularly as a gay man) to compare one fight the gay community faced to another. I remind you of the law in this area, particularly the well-known remarks of Lord Justice Sedley’s remarks in Redmond thus:
“Free speech includes not only the inoffensive but the irritating, the contentious, the eccentric, the heretical, the unwelcome and the provocative provided it does not tend to provoke violence. Freedom only to speak inoffensively is not worth having. What Speaker’s Corner (where the law applies as fully as anywhere else) demonstrates is the tolerance which is both extended by the law to opinion of every kind and expected by the law in the conduct of those who disagree, even strongly, with what they hear.”
This statement of the law echoes that which was said by Lord Justice Hoffman in R v Central Independent Television plc  Fam 192, 202-203:
“… a freedom which is restricted to what judges think to be responsible or in the public interest is no freedom. Freedom means the right to publish things which government and judges, however well motivated, think should not be published. It means the right to say things which ‘right-thinking people’ regard as dangerous or irresponsible. This freedom is subject only to clearly defined exceptions laid down by common law or statute.”
14. My opponents may have disliked or disapproved of my opinion, they may have found it insensitive or provocative; such entitles them to a reply in a debate, this is in the nature of freedom of speech and democracy. What they were not entitled to do was misrepresent what I said in an effort to silence me. That is the opposite of freedom of speech and it represents the victory of mendacious authoritarianism over genuine democratic discussion, a principle I would hope your company supports. I also make the point that the HIV crisis is a cultural touchstone and common reference for adult homosexual males (and one I write frequently about – my twitter background, for example, is an image from a 1984 blood drive by lesbians in San Francisco in support of gay men). Chilling my freedom of speech in this area amounts to indirect discrimination against gay men as a category. We are more likely to speak about this area, it having a disproportionate impact on us.
15. As will be obvious from the above, at no point did I wish disease upon anyone, compare persons or life choices to a disease or say some of the more offensive or extravagantly mendacious things which have been attributed to me by ideological opponents which I understand formed the basis of their complaints against me. Parsing the sentences I wrote, as a matter of basic reading comprehension will reveal I was attacking the ideology of biology denial / gender ideology, not a person or class or persons. Quite the opposite is true. I frequently speak up in support of trans persons (to the point other detractors have made YouTube videos attacking me) as any brief search of my timeline will show.
16. It follows that if your company took a decision to suspend my account on the defamatory and false bases as outlined above it did so in error having been deliberately misinformed by ideological opponents intent on silencing opposition rather than engaging with a nuanced point I am lawfully entitled to make.
17. To the extent your company requires me to justify why I believe gender is a greater threat to homosexuality than HIV (though I cannot possibly imagine how that would be concordant with freedom of speech or why you believe your company should adjudicate on the matter) I confine myself to the following five main points:
a. Biology denial / gender is homophobic.
Biology denial associates gender non-conforming behaviour with a need for lifelong medicalisation and is such an obvious danger to gay people that the head of safeguarding at the Tavistock was moved to bring a whistle-blower’s court case as noted above regarding Appleby. This ideology also uses legitimate gay rights policy objectives like conversion therapy bans to state mandate the prosecution of doctors who question such homophobia and does so claiming that protecting children from this hate is “conversion therapy”. This is an Orwellian attack on gay people as is the redefinition of homosexuality by former-gay (now exclusively trans) charities like Stonewall as “same gender” rather than “same sex” attraction, (as with many pronouncements by this extremist body, “same gender” attraction does not represent the law in this area in the UK. Please see the protected characteristic of same sex attraction in s.12 of the Equality Act 2010 for further details. No other community has been summarily redefined by an ideology without reference to the constituency. Homosexuality itself is held in contempt by biology deniers / gender ideologues who refer to us as “sexual racists” or “genital fetishists”. Anyone left in any doubt as to Stonewall’s conception of gay people as entirely subordinate to their biology denial politics should reflect on the fact that the charity’s reaction to a conversion therapy ban that only protects gay people was to oppose the bill in it’s entirety. Gay people according to Stonewall are only worthy of protection or participation in debate so far as they unquestioning accept biology denial.
b. Biology denial / gender is misogynist
This ideology reduces the concept of womanhood to a feeling and demands the abolition of all female boundaries whether that be same sex spaces in prisons, sports, changing rooms or hospitals wards. Female survivors uncomfortable with the presence of natal males in rape shelters (somewhat remarkably) are told by proponents of this ideology they are “bigots” who should “reframe their trauma”. Women speaking out on this issue are harassed in the workplace (see Maya Forstater, Professor Kathleen Stock, barrister Allison Bailey) and online (see the rape and death threats to JK Rowling apparently permitted on your platform until an article in the Daily Mail prompted action). To assist you with the detail of that last matter, your company initially took the view that a video in which it was said the narrator was “hoping to see author in a hearse” did not breach your guidelines.
c. Biology denial / gender is racist
Speaking at a conference for the UK’s only charity for same sex attracted people, the LGB Alliance, Allison Bailey, (a black lesbian) said in the keynote address she had never known racism such as that emanating from biology denial / gender ideology. I agree with her. The targeting of Allison, Sonia Appleby, Kiera Bell and the public vilification of Baroness Kishwer Falkner bear out the suggestion that the public enemies of this ideology often targeted are women from ethnic minorities. The Minister of State (Minister for Levelling up Communities) and Minister of State (Minister for Equalities) Kemi Badenoch MP condemned the attacks on Baroness Falkner drawing particular attention (correctly in my view) to the fact the charities responsible for them should not drive one of the few minority ethnic females in the UK from public life. I add to this that countless black women have said publicly that they object to being treated as a subset of the class “woman” in answer to biology denial activists speaking of them in such terms.
d. Biology denial / gender is authoritarian
Proponents of this deeply homophobic ideology do not respect democrat norms, the rule of law, freedom of speech or democratic debate. Examples abound but the following perhaps suffice. Yesterday, Crispin Blunt MP resigned as chair of an all-party group purporting to speak on gay issues because he implicitly criticised a High Court Judge and British jury who delivered a verdict that displeased him. Some weeks previously he instigated a complaint against his local elected Police and Crime Commissioner, Lisa Townsend on the basis he viewed her speech as insufficiently deferential to the causes he supports. This vignette of hypocrisy demonstrates aptly that proponents of this ideology afford themselves the right to speak out and “cancel” those who displease them irrespective of their democratic legitimacy or their function in the rule of law while denying any freedom of speech to others. Much the same is true of former gay (now exclusively trans) charity Stonewall who have recently, inter alia, (i) reported our own “A grade” rated human rights body to a UN body which until recently contained Russia, (ii) described lesbians as “sexual racists” and (iii) compared gender critical views to antisemitism (which was received particularly badly in the Jewish community as one might expect). The above demonstrates this creed is in many ways the opposite of a force which advances or respects freedom of speech and accordingly your platform may wish to take what proponents of it say in that context.
e. Biology denial / gender is a divisive force to fight
I have written in the past about the fact that biology denial has created a schism in the gay movement and produced the single most toxic debate I have ever encountered. This is largely as a consequence of the above observations and in particular the pseudo religious behaviour of adherents who regard any challenge to their beliefs as a form of hate. This renders this movement temperamentally and intellectually unsuited to debates because freedom of speech is not a value recognised as important.
18. By contrast, during the HIV crisis the gay movement was united, energised, focused on clear medical goals with clear policy ideas centred round medicine and education. The force we faced as a gay community was defeated by standing together, education and advances in science. I tweeted that I preferred fighting HIV and the truth is I did for the reasons I cite above. This is a nuanced point that perhaps requires the frame of reference of a gay man immersed in gay politics and activism to fully appreciate. It remains my view and it is not hate speech, a desire that anyone come to any harm or any of the more tenuous bad faith interpretations it has since been subjected to. As my social media output will attest, I still speak on the subject of HIV and regard it as important particularly because I am a gay man who has direct experience of the effect of the virus on my community.
19. I add two points. First, I take the view I am entitled to use medically accurate language such as “castration” or “double mastectomy” when describing medical procedures that bear those names which are being marketed to children. It does not seem to me that your company is entitled to mandate the use of euphemisms like “top/bottom surgery” and that if this is your policy it should be clear and you should justify how a company mandated official language code terms is possibly consistent with the ultimate freedom of speech – calling things that which they are.
20. Second this, I have no formal clear communication from you as to the reasons for your decision. Were you a public body in the UK that would render your decision (i) irrational, (ii) apparently not taken on the basis of evidence and (iii) not taken on the basis of a clear policy - all of which would found a cause of action for judicial review. It seems to me an elementary unfairness to expect those appealing to guess at what has led to your decision. I have had to do so here and you may wish to urgently review this.
21. You will note increased calls in public debate and in the passage of the Online Safety Bill for external regulation of your platform. It seems to me that it does not assist any arguments you wish to muster in favour of your continued self-regulation for you to behave in the manner of a Star Chamber where the accused has no idea of the charges, process, rules said to be broken, evidence or reasoning. As an elementary matter of free speech you may wish to look closely at the proposed legislation and what is said about transparent appeal and decision making processes.
Part III – the mass reporting of my account
22. I have demonstrated above that the mass reporting of my account was an exercise in bad faith and mendacious misreading of a perfectly legitimate point of view. I was making a serious and nuanced point. No doubt your own records will show certain ideological opponents agitating for silencing and suspension as is so often the case. In order to improve measures at your company that guarantee freedom of speech you may wish to look more closely in future at instances where mass reporting occurs and those directing it. You may also wish to consider whether the defamatory misdescription of tweets is itself a matter where you wish to take action. I repeat my surprise that you are apparently permitting tweets defaming me to remain public and will take advice on further steps in that matter.
23. You should be aware that as biology denial / gender ideology loses purchase in the national public debate (as is the case in the UK with conversion therapy / women’s sports / EHRC pronouncements) agitators and ideologues increasingly retreat to a digital space to silence opponents. Please be aware I am but one of many accounts targeted because we are homosexuals who do not subscribe to biology denial / gender ideology nor do we believe our right to speak on gay issues should be conditional upon accepting it. There are examples too numerous to mention but you will be aware you have upheld appeals in respect of similarly targeted contributors to this debate such as detransitioner Sinead Watson, feminist Helen Staniland and perhaps most similarly to my own case, Shay Wohalan, a lesbian who speaks out on this issue. You may think it is no accident all three share my views and like me all three have been subject to suspensions then overturned.
24. I must also ask that you urgently review whether your freedom of speech policy is now compromised more generally such that it discriminates against the protected characteristic of gender critical / pro biological reality points of view. This week the Prime Minister said in an interview that he did not believe biological males should compete in women’s sport. I note recent mass suspensions for women on your platform referring to trans identified competitors as biological males. You will no doubt realise that your company is in a very strange position in respect of freedom of speech if it is seemingly banning women from articulating a view the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom holds. Similarly, the Prime Minister doubted whether children were Gillick competent to consent to lifelong medicalisation and loss of fertility (much as the High Court of this country did in Bell v Tavistock  EWHC 3274 (admin)), again, you may wish to ask yourself whether such a view could be expressed on your platform. You must recognise no doubt that there is something seriously wrong in respect of a freedom of speech policy if the words of senior jurists and the Prime Minister might offend against your company’s interpretation of acceptable speech.
25. Knowing the law in this area and having formed the preliminary view that your company is discriminating against homosexuals expressing gender critical / pro biological reality points of view I have obviously taken some time to write a letter you will no doubt pass to you legal department (which I strongly recommend you do). I am acutely aware in this respect I have an advantage other people do not so it would be remiss of me not to draw your attention to several other cases of what I consider to be clear examples of the same misuse of your reporting function to chill and extinguish freedom of speech. In particular I urge you to review your permanent suspensions of the following people:
a. Holly Lawford Smith (@aytchellesse)
b. Claire Graham ( @MRKHVoice)
c. Stuart Campbell ( @WingsScotland and @RevStu (both verified))
d. Graham Linehan (@glinner)
e. Jon Hayward ( @jonwhay)
26. Finally, I note that on 10 April 2010 at 8:46 AM your company sent me an email in which you told me an account called “DennisKavanagh9” was suspended for violating your rules against evading permanent suspensions. This is not my account and I hope it is not impertinent to suggest that were I minded to evade a suspension it perhaps seems unlikely I would use my own name. You may think that this provides evidence of the targeting of my account and is certainly coherent with that proposition.
Matters relevant to the EHRC
27. I have cc’d this letter to the EHRC because I believe the contents thereof raise a clear prima facie case of s.10 belief discrimination. I would ask that the Minister consider broadly whether the Twitter and other tech companies are in effect operating a private permitted speech policy apparently operating beyond the reach of British law.
28. Further I would ask the commissioners to consider the extent to which the facts disclose indirect discrimination based on s.12 sexual Orientation and s.11 sex. The case for this is that homosexuals are more likely to engage in the gender debate because (i) our former charities now aggressively pursue this agenda against our own interests (ii) gay people are more likely to speak out on issues such as homophobia as a safeguarding concern (iii) gay men in particular are more likely as a group to make comparisons to the challenges we faced as a community during HIV (as I have done here).
29. The EHRC have emphasised the need for an open debate where all sides area heard in respect of conversion therapy and academic freedom/freedom of speech in higher education. The commissioners may wish to further this valuable public work by examining the digital landscape. Much public debate over these vital issues of concern takes place online and the commissioners may well wish to reflect on the matters in this letter and on the question of whether the time has come to ensure that Twitter and other social media platforms adhere to British law and the Equality Act 2010.
Matters relevant to Mr. Elon Musk
30. I have cc’d this letter to Mr. Musk given his ownership stake in your company and his declared (and much needed) aim of restoring freedom of speech to your platform. I note that Mr. Musk has previously tweeted to the effect that he believes “pronouns are nonsense”. He will recognise that his view in saying so places him at risk of precisely the sort of mendacious mass reporting my account was subject to. I urge Mr. Musk to consider my case but more broadly as he seeks to affect freedom of speech reforms to look more broadly at the United Kingdom gender critical / pro biological reality debate and the various parties I have referred to silenced as a result of mass reporting.
31. The freedom of speech of homosexual men has long been a target of enemies of homosexuality who claim to be offended and morally superior, this has been the case since Mary Whitehouse took a series of actions against Gay newspapers and plays in the 1970s. Proud, fierce, articulate homosexuals will always be targeted by those who regard same sex attraction as wrong, or as is said by the biology denial movement today “a hateful dog whistle”.
32. In his unpublished introduction to Animal Farm (1945) George Orwell wrote: “If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.” I urge your company to reflect on those words lest it lend itself to an Orwellian freedom of speech landscape in which those dubiously claiming to speak for homosexuals in fact do no more than silence homosexuals such as I.