Petition Commit to not amending the Equality Act's definition of sex

It has been reported that the Government may amend the Equality Act to "make it clear that sex means biological sex rather than gender." The Government has previously committed to not remove legal protections for trans people, an already marginalised group, but this change would do so.

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Currently, the Act protects trans people from discrimination on the basis of both sex and “gender reassignment”, regardless of whether they have undergone medical transition or hold a Gender Recognition Certificate. It can allow trans people to access single-sex spaces such as DV shelters, bathrooms and hospital wards.

The proposed change would remove a legal protection for trans people and encourage discrimination. We ask the Government to refuse this change to the Equality Act 2010.

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Government responded

This response was given on 25 January 2023

This Government believes in individual liberty. There are processes with appropriate checks to allow for those who wish to legally change their gender. Changes to the Equality Act are not necessary.

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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 Government is also committed to maintaining the safeguards that allow organisations to provide single-sex services. It is important that the principle of being able to operate spaces reserved for women and girls is maintained, in line with the Equality Act. Government is committed to tackling harassment and abusive behaviours by all individuals, and ensuring single-sex spaces are safe for those using them.

The Act makes it clear that providers have the right to restrict use of spaces on the basis of sex and gender reassignment where this is justified.
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.

Finally, this Government believes in the principle of individual liberty and in the humanity and dignity of every person. There are processes in place, with the right checks and balances, to allow for those who wish to legally change their gender to do so. We have listened to the responses in the Gender Recognition Act consultation and have taken steps to modernise the way that individuals can apply for a Gender Recognition Certificate as a result, reducing the cost and moving the process online. Everyone that decides to transition, deserves our respect, support and compassion.

Cabinet Office

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