‘Maybe they’re just gay’: Simon Callow condemns ‘tyrannical’ approach taken by LGBTQ+ rights group on gender identification

Legendary British actor & gay rights activist Simon Callow has laid into the Stonewall LGBTQ+ pressure group, condemning their “dangerously prescriptive approach” on gender identity, adding it impinges on hard-won women’s rights.

In an interview published in the Times on Wednesday, Simon Callow, perhaps best known for playing Gareth in Four Weddings and a Funeral, became the latest public figure to speak out against the assertive positioning of LGBTQ+ pressure groups on gender identification.

Callow, a veteran gay rights campaigner who took part in the anti-government demonstrations that led the founding the Stonewall group in 1989, expressed his concern about the group’s direction, claiming an “extraordinarily unproductive militancy” now surrounded its position. He added that he was concerned by the reaction his views may engender in this era of mass cancelling.

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The Stonewall group – named after a 1969 police raid on the gay Stonewall Inn in New York’s Greenwich Village – has fiercely campaigned for LGBTQ+ rights and self-identification for transgender people.

Callow, echoing the recently shared views of Stonewall founder Simon Fanshawe, contended that the group’s position is dangerously impinging on women’s rights. When it threatens hard-fought women’s rights and “the right to have exclusive spaces for women, away from any threat at all – I think that’s a very serious issue,” he argued.

The actor was equally concerned by Stonewall’s position on gender identification, an issue which has been repeatedly discussed, particularly following outbursts by popular figures such as author J.K. Rowling.

Callow deemed that transitioning gender was particularly complex and the LGBTQ+ group’s position may lure people to transition when they don’t need to. “The most dangerous thing is that it may well be that they are just gay, and they are being somehow lured into thinking that they are obviously in the wrong gender.” 

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Callow labelled Stonewall’s position as a “very strange turn to the tyrannical” and condemned their “dangerously prescriptive approach.”

The actor’s comments have been well received on social media, with many praising Callow for speaking out “against the delusional ones in society.” Others contended it takes a huge amount of courage to speak publicly on such controversial issues these days: “By all means let those who disagree have their say but, please, do NOT cancel him out like some Stasi operative.”

Some claimed they were glad it wasn’t just “hysterical women” who were condemning the calls for gender self-identification and transgender access to women’s safe spaces. “If people won’t listen to women, maybe they’ll listen to a gay man?” another chimed in.

One thanked Callow for “questioning the misogyny of Stonewall” while another said they hoped this would be “a watershed moment for those who have remained fearfully silent.” 

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However, there were a few dissenting voices who weren’t happy with Callow’s decision to condemn Stonewall. “It's a hell no to Simon Callow and to anyone else who expresses anti-trans views,” one LGBT+ campaigner wrote. Another said he wasn’t surprised, claiming it is “water is wet news.” 

Callow’s interview in the Times comes a day after British comedy legend John Cleese announced an upcoming new show, entitled “John Cleese: Cancel Me.” The outspoken critic of contemporary societal movements will explore the “various reasonings” behind the cancel culture and speak to celebrities who have been ‘cancelled’. 

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