In a letter towards the Permanent Secretary of the Britian’s Home Office, headed by House Secretary Priti Patel, Matthew Rycroft, the Free Speech Union objected to a directive to staff to change their email signatures to indicate their particular pronouns.
According to the FSU, the directive, which was later clarified to become mandatory, is a violation of free speech rights as it compels speech whether people realize it or not.
“ We are alarmed to find out from the employee of UNITED KINGDOM Visas and Immigration that will Home Office staff have been advised to change their email signatures so they include their pronouns. We are concerned that this directive, which appears to be mandatory, is a type of compelled speech that will violates the right to freedom of thought, conscience, plus religion, and the right to totally free speech (Article 9 plus Article 10 of the Euro Convention on Human Rights) as incorporated in UK law by the Human Legal rights Act, and is a infringement of the Equality Act the year 2010 (EqA). ”
In an April 4 e-mail, staff were told to include their pronouns in their email signatures. In another email the following day, a supervisor clarified that the directive had not been a request but a demand.
Employees were told that the reason for the change was in order to represent “ the broader cultural changes” in the division.
The FSU’s letter calls on Rycroft to confirm that “ no Office at home employee has been penalized pertaining to refusing to include their pronouns in their email signatures, and, to avoid any confusion, make sure this email is rescinded and make it clear to managers at all levels of the Home Office that will stating pronouns on e-mail signatures is not, and must not become, mandatory. ”