Cllr Gary Powell is a councillor in Buckinghamshire

It is Pride month. Rainbow and trans amulets appear in countless social media profiles to signal ideological compliance. The medieval odium directed at heretics who question the new LGBT+ fundamentalism usually prevents any whisper of dissent. Even the Police are warning us to avoid thoughtcrime, with the ominously-named “LGBT+ Police UK” tweeting sacred hashtag mantras:

“We stand firm in support of the #trans and #nonbinary community. We believe that #TransRightsAreHumanRights, #TransWomenAreWomen, #TransMenAreMen and #NonBinaryPeopleAreValid.”

My own enthusiasm for Pride dissolved many years ago, as I came to regard real equality as the ability to blend in modestly and inconspicuously with the rest of today’s accepting society. As a gay rights activist over four decades, and as someone who has suffered a great deal as a result of homophobic discrimination, it falls to me to speak out against the screaming LGBT+ chainsaw that has no off-button.

The western gay rights movement, including Stonewall, has morphed into a monster that is now eating its own children. Stonewall began as a worthy institution, campaigning against Margaret Thatcher’s “Section 28”. Since then, its cash registers have become frenetic, and Stonewall’s turnover for 2018 was £8,697,000. Its most senior employee earns a six-figure salary, and in 2018 it received £610,000 in grant income from Government sources, with a fee income of £2,731,000 that included payments from local authorities for its workplace “Diversity Champions” and “Secondary Schools Champions” programmes.

Britain’s post-Covid local and national budgets will surely have far better uses for taxpayers’ money. Especially as I believe that Stonewall, and its similarly well-heeled USA counterparts, now constitute a very serious threat to the rights of LGB people, to women’s sex-based rights and protections, and to the rights of children – including those with high-functioning autism. The virtue-signalling frenzy that is pumping Stonewall and similar LGBT+ organisations with money and acclaim needs a serious injection of sanity and objective reflection.

Around five years ago, Stonewall and similar western charities bolted trans rights on to their LGB campaigns, even though gender identity has nothing to do with sexual orientation. The timing of this does not seem to be coincidental. With legal equality for LGB people successfully achieved in the West, these charities needed new victims and causes to maintain their cashflow. “Gender identity” ideology was ideal. Between 2014 and 2018, Stonewall’s turnover increased by 61 per cent.

There were casualties, however. In order to accommodate extreme gender ideology, Stonewall redefined a homosexual or gay person as “someone who has a romantic and/or sexual orientation towards someone of the same gender.” Please note: “Gender”; not “sex”. The modern LGBT+ movement asserts that “gender” is a subjective, unverifiable sense of being male or female (or “non-binary”). Which means that lesbians who sexually reject trans women (of whom around 80 per cent retain their male genitalia) because they do not have a vagina and are not biologically female, are now in violation of Stonewall’s new definition of “homosexual”. They are often told that “genital preferences are transphobic” and accused of “hating trans people”. We LGB people have had our sexual identities erased: the very basis of which is that we are attracted to people of the same biological sex. Heterosexual readers take note: your own “genital preferences” may also one day attract negative attention from gender Torquemadas.

The plight of gay and lesbian children is even worse. The obsession with extreme gender ideology in British schools, encouraged by Stonewall’s “education” programmes and by other LGBT+ interventions, is leading to an increasing number of gay and lesbian children coming to believe they are heterosexual, but trapped in the wrong body. Gender-non-conforming heterosexual children are also vulnerable, as are children with high-functioning autism, who are trying to find explanations for why they feel so disjunct from their peer group. We recognise that children are unable to give informed consent to sexual activity. So how can they possibly give informed consent to puberty-blocking hormones? Or have any idea their psyches have a “gender” mismatched to their body, given they can introspectively access no other psyche than their own for comparison? We see here how craven ideological capitulation can wreck the moral compass of adults, whose duty it is to protect children from harm.

A number of trans people themselves also campaign courageously against gender extremism, feeling their civil rights movement has been captured and exploited. The transwoman and trans rights campaigner, Dr Debbie Hayton, asserts categorically that transwomen are men and transmen are women. She has written extensively in the national media about the harm that the gender extremist movement causes to women, children, and LGB people, as well as to the reputations of socially responsible transsexual people. As a heretic, she is subjected to a great deal of hatred from the torch-and-pitchfork mob. I strongly support the right of the very small number of people with gender dysphoria to live their best lives, free from prejudice, discrimination, and ostracism; and I back the right of trans adults to access gender reassignment surgery on the NHS. Nonetheless, I still get called “transphobic”, because any doctrinal dissent apparently implies “hatred”.

Stonewall campaigns to enable anyone to self-identify legally as trans without any gender dysphoria diagnosis. They also campaign to remove the single-sex exemptions in the Equality Act 2010, so that any male-bodied man who simply claims to be trans would have a right to access women’s protected spaces such as changing rooms, public toilets, hostels, hospital wards and prisons. This would, of course, be a golden opportunity for any violent, misogynistic man to falsely assert female status in order to access girls’ and women’s spaces with ulterior motives.

The Sunday Times has claimed the Government is to scrap plans to facilitate trans self-identification without a medical diagnosis, and that new safeguards will be introduced to protect women’s spaces. If the Minister for Equalities, Liz Truss, confirms this, then the Conservative Government will be pushing back against ideological policy capture by a pernicious entity that has mutated beyond recognition. Now, that really would be a cause for pride.