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By Jack Wright For Mailonline. Campaigners have urged the equality watchdog to investigate whether the Royal Academy of Arts discriminated against a feminist artist because of her opinions about the 'ideology' of gender politics. The RA has been accused of breaching the Equality Act by removing from sale embroidered flowers by Jess de Wahls, a textile artist born in former East Germany over what it called her 'transphobic views'. Miss de Wahls said she was targeted by trans activists last week over an essay she published in , in which she called a woman 'an adult human female' and criticised controversial LGBT charity Stonewall.
The RA removed her work from sale after just eight complaints were made that she was transphobic. The EHRC successfully intervened in the case of tax expert Maya Forstater, who was fired over tweets that criticised plans to enable people to self-identify their gender. Nicola Williams, the founder of Fair Play for Women, has written to the watchdog, urging it to investigate 'a possible breach of the Equality Act'.
She wrote: 'Removing Jess de Wahls' work from the market based on her protected beliefs is a clear infringement of her rights under the Equality Act. The RA has been accused of breaching the Equality Act by removing from sale embroidered flowers by Jess de Wahls, a textile artist, over what it called her 'transphobic views'. The Royal Academy issued a statement online on Thursday, in which it said it had received complaints for selling works 'by an artist expressing transphobic views'. A source close to the RA said that its chief executive Axel Ruger had written to trustees last week to say there were 'lessons to be learnt about how to react to social media crises' from this episode.
The source told the Sunday Times: 'It's tricky. It highlighted that the RA had not given enough thought to potential issues that are going to come out in society around diversity and inclusion. These things now are so sensitive and you have to be ahead of the game in PR terms. Miss de Wahls had criticised 'gender identity ideology', warning that it enforced censorship akin to that found in the former Soviet empire and had a detrimental impact on the rights of women and girls.
Though she defended the rights of transgender people, Miss de Wahls claims her work was pulled from the gift shop as a result of a 'concerted effort' from online activists over her alleged transphobia. In a statement published on Instagram last week, the RA said it had received complaints for selling works 'by an artist expressing transphobic views' and said that Miss de Wahls's work 'will not be stocked in future'.
The academy added: 'The RA is committed to Equality, Diversity and Inclusion and does not knowingly support artists who act in conflict with these values. The Instagram statement added: 'The RA is committed to Equality, Diversity and Inclusion and does not knowingly support artists who act in conflict with these values. Miss de Wahls wrote in that a woman is 'an adult human female' and 'not an identity or feeling', adding: 'I can not accept people's unsubstantiated assertions that they are in fact the opposite sex to when they were born.
She wrote: 'I have no issue with somebody who feels more comfortable expressing themselves as if they are the other sex or in whatever way they please for that matter. However, I can not accept people's unsubstantiated assertions that they are in fact the opposite sex to when they were born and deserve to be extended the same rights as if they were born as such.
Feelings don't have human rights. Humans do. Maya Forstater, who won an appeal after losing her job following tweets stating trans women were 'not women', warned of the growth of 'McCarthyism' in society. She told the Telegraph: 'Organisations have got used to overreacting to complaints of transphobia. They need to take a deep breath, look at the Equality Act and consider that everybody has rights.
The campaign groups Sex Matters has called on the director of the RA to reinstate Miss de Wahls' works and apologise to the artist. In a letter, they claimed the decision to pull her work came after a 'handful of coordinated complaints', adding: 'The Royal Academy is carrying out an egregious and blatant belief discrimination against textile artist Jess de Wahls. Miss de Wahls is a textile artist who makes embroidered portraits, often dealing with feminism. Her work was sold in the RA gift shop, where prints of controversial artists have ly been made available for sale. Prints of the work of Paul Gauguin, who reportedly had sexual relationships with young girls, were sold during the exhibition Gauguin and the Impressionists.
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Royal Academy is accused of breaking equality laws by cancelling feminist artist