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LGBT Foundation cuts ties with equalities watchdog

28 Jan 2022 News

LGBT Foundation has severed all ties with the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), with the charity saying recent statements were “extremely damaging”.

EHRC had called for “more detailed consideration” on the proposed reforms to the Gender Recognition Act in Scotland.

Proposed reforms to the Gender Recognition Act in Scotland would simplify the process trans people go through to obtain legal recognition of their gender.

The process of gaining a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC) can take up to five years. It requires a medical diagnosis of body dysphoria and that the trans individual live in their acquired gender for two years.

LGBT Foundation has said this causes trans people “unnecessary trauma”, and by not agreeing with the proposals to change them “EHRC can no longer call itself a true human rights organisation”.

In a second statement EHRC called for more research into conversion therapy, further delaying a proposed ban on the practice. 

“It is with sadness and deep regret that LGBT Foundation is severing all ties with the EHRC,” LGBT Foundation said.

Stonewall, Mermaids, Pride Cymru and The Rainbow Project are among the LGBTQ+ charities that have openly disagreed with EHRC’s stance on the matters.

‘Attack on trans equality’

EHRC is a non-departmental public body that was established in 2007 to promote equality and non-discrimination laws in England, Scotland and Wales.

The equality regulator voiced several concerns about changing the criteria that allows an individual to have a GRC. It says this is because of the potential implications “relating to the collection and use of data, participation and drug testing in competitive sport, measures to address barriers facing women, and practices within the criminal justice system, inter alia”.

Stonewall responded by calling it an “attack on trans equality” and has created an open letter calling on the UK prime minister Boris Johnson and Scotland's first minister Nicola Sturgeon to stand up for trans rights. Within 24 hours, the letter has almost 2,000 signatures.

In its statement, Stonewall said: “We are deeply troubled by the approach that the EHRC is taking to trans people’s human rights. Their approach appears to focus on pleasing a noisy minority of anti-trans activists, rather than promoting human rights for all LGBTQ+ people.”

‘Heel dragging’ on progress

Trans and gender diverse charity Mermaids also released a statement on EHRC’s position: “We're extremely concerned to see our equality watchdog specifically suggest protection for trans people should be further delayed, when we know – and government data illustrates - that trans people are also victims to this form of abuse. There can be no more heel-dragging.”

Pride Cymru said it “condemns the EHRC for its ill-informed and dangerous transphobic stance” and argued the regulatory body’s position was endorsing “dog whistle transphobia”. 

“We’re troubled the EHRC is no longer fit for purpose,” Pride Cymru continued. 

Trans-led charity Gendered Intelligence also expressed outrage at EHRC’s statement: “We have been waiting five years and two consultations for the government to fulfil its promises. How long is long enough?

“Every delay sends a message: transgender people don’t count, transgender people aren’t valued, transgender people don’t deserve rights. Every postponement brings another wave of harassment and discrimination, fuelled by a government who refuse to support the marginalised and the vulnerable.”

A significant change in position

Scottish National Party (SNP) leader Nicola Sturgeon expressed concern about EHRC’s calls to delay the process further yesterday. 

“This actually represents a significant change in position of the Equalities and Human Rights Commission,” Sturgeon said. 

When previous drafts of the Scottish Government’s consultations occurred in 2017 and 2019, EHRC largely agreed that the process of gaining a GRC was traumatic.

“This is a bill that is designed to simplify an existing process, to reduce the distress, the trauma and anxiety and often the stigmatisation that trans people suffer in our society,” Sturgeon said.

LGB Alliance response

The LGB Alliance welcomed the EHRC’s decision. 

The charity is the subject of a legal challenge about whether it should have been able to register as a charity, despite inflammatory language when discussing trans rights. 

In a statement it said: “Yesterday, @EHRC wrote to the Scottish Government expressing concerns over plans for reform of the Gender Recognition Act. We are pleased to co-sign this joint statement today in support of the EHRC's stance, and urge @scotgov to reconsider.”


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