- Cosmetics retailer Lush has come under fire after it donated £3,000 ($4,000) to an anti-trans group.
- The recipient, A Woman’s Place UK, has been accused of anti-trans behavior.
- Four of the group’s five core demands focus on the idea that trans rights could infringe women’s rights, activists say.
- Activists have called for shoppers to boycott Lush, and its North American arm quickly distanced itself from the decision.
- “We do not believe that trans rights are a threat to women’s rights,” Lush said, and maintained that it remains a loyal advocate of LGBTQ+ rights.
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Activists are calling for shoppers to boycott Lush after the cosmetics retailer donated £3,000 ($4,000) to A Woman’s Place UK, which has been accused of anti-transgender behaviour.
In a statement published Saturday, the group said it had received the grant from Lush’s Charity Pot towards “events organization.” The company also confirmed the donation, but its North American arm was quick to distance itself from the decision.
Pink News first reported on the matter.
A Woman’s Place UK has been accused of anti-trans behavior by activists in the past. At its events, speakers have called transgender women “horrible, hateful, misogynistic bastards” and said they “parasitically occupy” women’s bodies.
Four of the group’s five core demands focus on the idea that trans rights could infringe women’s rights. For example, the group lobbies for the maintenance and potential extension of “women-only spaces” such as refuges, toilets, prisons, and hospital wards. This means trans women would be excluded from these spaces.
After the group announced the donation Saturday, LGBTQ+ activists have been calling on shoppers to boycott the brand.
—Sarah Dollard (@snazdoll) December 1, 2020
Lush’s North American arm was also quick to distance itself from its UK owner.
“At Lush North America we do not have any say in the running of Lush UK, but we condemn transphobia and are committed to fighting for trans rights,” it said on Twitter.
Individual Lush branches across the UK spoke out against the donation, too.
‘We do not believe that trans rights are a threat to women’s rights’
After social media backlash to the news, Lush UK published a lengthy blog post in which it admitted to the donation, alongside another one which it didn’t name the source of.
One grant was issued in late 2017, “which predated our awareness of how toxic discussion around this issue had become and before we put rules in place around this subject,” Lush said. The second grant was funding for a proposed conference focusing on violence and sexual violence towards women, with extra consideration for BAME and international issues, Lush said.
“We do not believe that trans rights are a threat to women’s rights,” Lush said, responding to accusations that by funding A Woman’s Place UK it was supporting a group that prioritizes women’s rights over trans rights.
Lush said it is allies with both women and LGBTQ+ communities, but “the company itself is not a member of these communities and does not have the expertise and insight that lived experience and belonging confer,” it added. “We therefore decided that we would continue to fund and support LGBTQ+ and women’s issues via Charity Pot – but not campaigning work, discussion, or lobbying on the specifics of the proposed changes to the Gender Recognition Act.”
In 2018, the UK government reviewed its 2004 Gender Recognition Act (GRA), which gives trans people legal “recognition of their acquired gender.” One of the proposals was to allow people to “self-declare” their gender, rather than seeking approval from a panel of experts.
Some discussions on the topic became “heated and divisive,” Lush said, and the company received grants applications from campaign groups on both sides of the debate.
“We take the view that as a company we should never be funding two sides of a debate,” Lush said.
One of A Woman’s Place’s core aims is to have “respectful and evidence-based discussion” about the GRA and women’s opinions towards it.
Pink News also suggested that the donation contradicts Lush’s Charity Pot guidelines, which say that it won’t fund organizations that “harbour racism or prejudice.”
Lush maintained that it remains a loyal advocate of LGBTQ+ rights, and added it has given grants to 514 LGBTQ+ groups totaling £1.6 million ($2.13 million) over the last five years.
“Our intention is to continue to fund the many wonderful trans groups that come to us needing help to stay safe and to fight for acceptance and we hope that this has not put you off applying,” Lush said. “We never wish to let you down or to not be right there by your side during your struggles.”