The actor and gay rights campaigner claimed that an “extraordinarily unproductive militancy” now surrounds the LGBTQ+ charity.
As reported by The Times, Callow said that the organisation’s stance on self-identification for transgender people risks infringing women’s rights and “could put pressure on young gay people to transition”.
The Four Weddings and a Funeral star – who was involved in the anti-government protests that led to the 1989 foundation of Stonewall – said: “I shouldn’t have to fear in that way.
“This is just tyranny and that’s what we’ve fought against all our lives, people saying, ‘This cannot be discussed.’ Yes, it can be discussed. Everything can be discussed.”
The 72-year-old continued: “I’ve always been perfectly prepared to discuss homosexuality with anyone on reasonable terms. I can form a conclusion about a person’s attitudes but I don’t for one second think they shouldn’t have them.”
As noted by The Times, Callow had been a vocal critic of Section 28 of Margaret Thatcher’s Local Government Act in 1988.
Section 28 was brought in to “prohibit the promotion of homosexuality by local authorities”.
A founding member of Stonewall, broadcaster Simon Fanshawe, was one of 22 people to sign a letter to The Sunday Times in 2019, expressing concern that the group’s transgender policy “undermined women’s sex based rights and protections”.
The signatories noted that they are most concerned about primary school children being too quickly challenged to review their gender identity.
Callow has agreed with Fanshawe, accusing the charity of having “taken a very strange turn toward the tyrannical, a dangerously prescriptive position on a complex issue”.
“When it impinges on women’s rights, hard-won women’s rights, the right to exclusive spaces for women, away from any threat at all – I think that’s a very serious issue,” he said.
The actor also spoke about the question of determining when children can be deemed to decide their gender identity, calling it “complex”.
“The most dangerous thing is that it may well be that they are just gay and they’re being somehow lured into thinking that they are obviously in the wrong gender, which is not the case,” said Callow.
In response to the actor’s comments, Stonewall issued a statement to The Times, reading: “We are working towards a world in which all lesbian, gay, bi, trans and queer people are able to thrive as themselves.
“We’re very proud of our work towards trans equality, as well as our work for all lesbian, gay, bi and queer people. From LGBTQ+ inclusive education to equity in healthcare, our work helps all LGBTQ+ people.”