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A Response from the LGBT+ Liberal Democrats and Wera Hobhouse MP to the UK Government’s plan to scrap GRA Reform

September 22, 2020 5:01 PM
By The LGBT+LD Executive

Grief and despair. That's what a great number of trans, non-binary and intersex individuals in the UK are feeling today. Despite 3 years of promises and consultations by successive Conservative governments, which created a storm of anti-trans hatred and disinformation from the media, the Government has scrapped its plans to reform the Gender Recognition Act. We, along with a majority of respondents to both Govenrment consultations, had welcomed proposals to introduce self-identification, remove the spousal veto and allow non-binary individuals to gain legal recognition. Sadly, these have all now been scrapped.

Instead, we are offered the fig-leaf of three previously announced Gender Identity Clinics and a reduction in the price of a Gender Identity Certificate. While we welcome the removal of a financial barrier facing those who are applying for a GRC, we agree strongly with Gendered Intelligence when they say that 'reforming a piece of legislation which is fundamentally broken cannot mean slapping a discount sticker on it and expecting great results'.

We agree with many in the Trans community who feel the Government has wilfully misrepresented their responses to the consultations on GRA reforms. The Government has suggested that moving the process online will make it less bureaucratic, yet has done nothing to remove the outdated requirement for an applicant to lay a selection of documents before a panel of strangers who will never meet them, with no right of appeal, and yet are asked to determine whether they are worthy of recognition. Many trans individuals must also face gaining specific approval from their spouse to allow them to go through the Gender Recognition process.

The medical profession does not want its role as arbiter of trans people's identity any more than trans people do, with the British Medical Association having called for the introduction of self-identification. It is clear that trans healthcare in this country is failing and needs to be improved, but the Government's suggestion that this is an either/or choice is manipulative and harmful.

The government has also done nothing to address non-binary and intersex rights, which was one of the stated aims of their consultation. Instead, members of the non-binary and intersex community remain unable to be legally identified as such on legal documents such as passports and driving licenses.

The Liberal Democrats continue to support genuine reform of the GRA. We also call on the government to make concerted, rapid progress on the long called for and desperately needed overhaul to trans healthcare services to reduce years long waiting lists and allow people to easily access the help they need. A competent government would not have to choose between the two.

The UK Government is continuing with it's track record of not keeping its promises and today it has utterly failed the trans, non-binary and intersex community . LGBT+ Liberal Democrats and the Liberal Democrats more widely will continue to stand with trans, non-binary and intersex communities until we have achieved the equality that they need and have every right to expect.

LGBT+ Liberal Democrats endorses the following statement from the Liberal Democrats' Spokesperson on Women and Equalities, Wera Hobhouse MP:

"Far too many trans and non-binary people are the victims of discrimination, harassment and hate crimes. The rates of suicide and self-harm are heart-breaking.

It is clear that action is needed to protect the rights, dignity and wellbeing of trans and non-binary people - and making it easier for them to obtain legal recognition of their gender identity is an important part of that.

It is therefore incredibly disappointing that, after stirring up three years of toxic debate, the Conservatives have now abandoned their plans to reform the Gender Recognition Act.

Unlike the Tories, Liberal Democrats will not play political games with individuals' rights and people's lives. We will always stand up for equality and human rights for all, and work to end discrimination and abuse throughout society."