The Sunday Times has criticised the Big Lottery Fund over two grants it made to transgender projects, and questioned whether other causes are missing out.
In December, the newspaper published two articles that were critical about funding awarded to separate charities for projects supporting transgender people. It also highlighted a number of other charities which have recently missed out on funding.
The paper first criticised funding awarded to Mermaids, a Leeds-based charity which provides support to gender diverse and transgender children and young people. This prompted the BLF to say it would review the grant. The review is ongoing.
Then the following week the Sunday Times criticised a grant awarded to the equality charity Stonewall, with the headline New lottery bonanza for transgender lobby.
Stonewall had been awarded £494,000 to “empower trans leaders and organisations”. The newspaper's coverage highlighted that one of Stonewall’s employees previously performed in a cabaret group.
The Sunday Times then launched a reader poll asking “is the Big Lottery Fund supporting the right causes?”
Some 93 per cent of readers answered “no”. Nearly 700 readers voted in the poll, which closed on 28 December.
‘National Lottery funding is for everyone’
The BLF defended its position, with a spokesperson saying: “National Lottery funding is for everyone. Our awards go to community organisations that are the lifeblood of civil society across the UK, including those who support the disadvantaged and the marginalised.
“Our decision-making processes are robust and designed to provide the appropriate levels of scrutiny for the applications we receive. Our funding always has the same purpose - to help people and communities thrive.”
Stonewall to make a formal complaint
Stonewall said that the article was “vicious” and that it would be making a formal complaint.
In a statement, it said: “The Sunday Times have published a vicious article, directly placing an individual member of Stonewall staff at the centre of its criticism of our work.
“While a newspaper should scrutinise and provide a platform for different views, it must also be accurate.
“This article contains a number of inaccuracies and we will be making a formal complaint to the paper. The named member of staff is an important and valued member of the Stonewall team and, like everyone at Stonewall, she plays a vital role every day to build acceptance without exception for LGBT people.”