Arts Council England (ACE) has reached a settlement with Denise Fahmy, a former employee who says she felt forced to resign from the organisation due to harassment over her gender critical beliefs.
Fahmy had worked at the arts council for more than 15 years and was the relationship manager for visual arts in the North at the time of her resignation in 2022.
In June, Leeds Employment Tribunal found that the arts council had not adequately protected Fahmy from harassment, culminating in a petition on the arts council’s online noticeboard in which her views were compared to racism and likened to a “cancer”.
Fahmy’s successful claim followed the precedent set by the 2021 court victory of tax accountant Maya Forstater, which established that the belief that there are two sexes, and that sex is immutable, important and should not be conflated with gender identity, is protected under the Equality Act 2010.
Fahmy has received an apology and an undisclosed amount in compensation from the arts council.
Fahmy said: “Following my successful claim for harassment in the Leeds Employment Tribunal against Arts Council England we have reached agreement.”
Fahmy thanked her solicitor Liz McClone and barrister Anya Palmer, staff at the LGB Alliance and those who contributed to a crowdfund towards her legal costs.
She said: “Many people working in the arts are deeply affected by the intolerance within the sector. I hope my case has helped shine a light on that. I will continue to fight for freedom of expression in the arts.”
A statement from the arts council said: “Following the recent judgment of the Leeds Employment Tribunal in respect of Denise Fahmy’s claims against Arts Council England, the parties are pleased to confirm that an agreement has been reached which resolves the case.
“The ruling, which was issued on 26 June 2023, found that Arts Council England had taken steps to address the incident at the time but that the claimant was not adequately protected from harassment by some of her peers.”
A spokesperson for the arts council said: "We respect the findings of the judgment and are sorry that despite the actions we took at the time, a member of our team experienced harassment at work.
“We are committed to making sure that similar instances do not happen again, and that we are an organisation where every staff member, no matter who they are, or what beliefs they hold, is treated with dignity and respect, and ultimately feel they belong."