Hide me!

Equality Network response to today’s Sunday Times front page

Update 18th June: A huge thank you to everyone who let the Prime Minister know that you oppose these proposals. We think this is really piling on the pressure to stop them. We’ll keep everyone updated via our social media channels.

Today (14th June 2020), the Sunday Times has reported that an unnamed UK Government source has leaked to them a draft of what the UK Government Minister for Women and Equalities, Liz Truss, apparently proposes to do to try to undermine trans equality.

The report claims that Liz Truss will completely ignore the 70% of respondents to the UK Government Gender Recognition Act consultation who supported removing the intrusive medical evidence requirements for correcting a trans person’s birth certificate. The Sunday Times bizarrely claims the consultation result was unfairly influenced by trans people. In actual fact, the Sunday Times and other media intensively promoted anti-trans campaigning against the reforms and trans people represent less than 1% of the population.

The report also claims that Liz Truss will try to force local councils not to provide gender neutral toilets and to restrict trans women’s ability to use women’s toilets. We know from looking at similar attempts in North Carolina and Texas that exclusion of trans people from toilets is unworkable but harmfully increases the risk of transphobic hate crime.

The report also made mention of Liz Truss apparently trying to make it more difficult for trans teenagers to access puberty delaying medication but gave no details.

For Scotland, Gender Recognition Act reform, toilet regulations and access to healthcare are under the control of the Scottish Government rather than the UK Government. We call for the Scottish Government to uphold their positive commitments to trans equality. We are appalled that the UK Government Women and Equalities Minister appears to be considering a deplorable roll-back of trans people’s safety, privacy and dignity. Across the UK and internationally, trans people, LGBT organisations, wider equalities organisations, academics, medical professionals, lawyers, service providers, businesses and thousands of individual allies will strongly resist any such roll-backs.

We note positively that the Sunday Times reports these draft proposals have not yet been approved by @10DowningStreet. We call on @BorisJohnson to leave trans people in peace and not follow in the footsteps of anti-LGBT bullies such as Trump in the USA, Bolsonaro in Brazil, and Orbán in Hungary.

Everyone can help by urging @BorisJohnson not to take forward any of these potential anti-trans proposals: https://email.number10.gov.uk/

Scottish Government announcement that the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill is on hold due to the coronavirus crisis

We understand that dealing with the current outbreak of COVID-19 must be the Scottish Government’s top priority. That is why we support today’s announcement that they will deprioritise any new primary or secondary legislation not intended to deal with this public health crisis until it is over. At least six bills are now currently on hold, and these include the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill.

Whilst we know that trans people and our allies will be hugely disappointed that this means work on reform of the Gender Recognition Act has been halted for now, the most important thing for all of us at the moment is to look after ourselves and each other. We urge everyone to keep reaching out through these difficult times. Whilst we need to be physically distant, it is important to stay socially connected.

Shirley-Anne Somerville, Cabinet Secretary for Social Security and Older People, is responsible for GRA reform. She has said to us in a letter today following the announcement, that:

“The Scottish Government continues to have a strong commitment to reform the Gender Recognition Act 2004 and improve the current process for trans people.”

Once this is all over, we will get back to making the case for why they must honour that commitment, and reform this law.

The Cabinet Secretary goes on to say in her letter that:

“(the Scottish Government) remains committed to improving the lives of trans and non-binary people more generally… You have raised a number of issues around the inequalities trans people continue to experience and I have asked that – once the COVID-19 pandemic has passed – officials work with you to develop proposals that deliver meaningful improvement to the lives of trans people in Scotland.”

We welcome this commitment. Once the coronavirus crisis is over, we look forward to working with the Scottish Government on a range of issues such as access to healthcare, tackling hate crime and trans young people’s experiences at school.

But until then, let’s do everything we can to help each other through this.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Click here to download the Cabinet Secretary’s letter as a PDF