Submitted by Maya Forstater on Monday 5th September 2022
Published on Thursday 20th October 2022
Current status: Closed
Closed: Thursday 20th April 2023
Update the Equality Act to make clear the characteristic “sex” is biological sex
The Government must exercise its power under s.23 of the Gender Recognition Act to modify the operation of the Equality Act 2010 by specifying the terms sex, male, female, man & woman, in the operation of that law, mean biological sex and not "sex as modified by a Gender Recognition Certificate"
The Equality Act 2010 covers nine separate protected characteristics, including “Sex” & “Gender Reassignment”. This protects people against sex discrimination and discrimination because a person is transgender.
There has been much confusion about how the Equality Act and GRA interact. This has caused uncertainty and conflict for women, transgender people, and service providers. The GRA includes a provision to amend other laws to make it clear whether a GRC changes the definition of sex for that law.
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The Government responded to this petition on Thursday 26th January 2023
Under the Equality Act 2010, providers are already able to restrict the use of spaces/services on the basis of sex and/or gender reassignment where justified. Further clarification is not necessary.
The Equality Act 2010 provides protection against discrimination, harassment and victimisation across a number of grounds, including sex. We are committed to upholding Britain’s long-standing record of protecting the rights of individuals against unlawful discrimination.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) have published guidance on the existing legislation which provides much needed clarity to those offering single-sex spaces. It does not change the legal position or the law.
As the guidance makes clear, it is entirely acceptable for providers of single-sex services to take account of the biological sex of their service users. Where it is a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim, the Equality Act 2010 is clear that service providers can exclude, modify or limit access for transgender people, even where they have a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC). This includes where a service provider has concerns that the presence of individuals who are biologically male could prevent them from meeting their aims, such as in the example below, included in the guidance:
“A group counselling session is provided for female victims of sexual assault. The organisers do not allow trans women to attend as they judge that the clients who attend the group session are likely to be traumatised by the presence of a person who is biologically male.”
It is important that providers of single-sex services are clear that biological sex can be taken into consideration when providing services.
The Government is committed to maintaining the safeguards that allow organisations to provide single-sex spaces. It is important that the principle of being able to operate spaces reserved for women and girls is maintained. Government is committed to tackling harassment and abusive behaviours by all individuals, and ensuring single-sex spaces are safe for those using them.
This petition has reached the threshold for a Parliamentary debate, but the debate has not yet been scheduled.
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