Manchester: Road survey criticised for asking gender-related questions

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Local government officials in Greater Manchester have defended a transport public consultation document that asks respondents to identity their race, sexuality and gender following complaints about it being intrusive.

The survey, which is designed to gauge the views of residents over a proposed new relief road for Manchester Airport asks a series of personal questions, including whether a person’s birth gender is different to their current gender.

Jim McMahon, project director for the road, said in a statement to the Manchester Evening News: “The three councils involved with the A6 to Manchester Airport Relief Road, have a duty towards equalities and social inclusion.

“Therefore, the questions were agreed to allow future analysis of all responses and demonstrate that the consultation reaches all areas of the community”.

Mr McMahon added: “The wording of these questions reflect national equalities guidance. These questions are purely optional and do not have to be answered to register a comment, question or view on the scheme.”

Equality Impact Assessments (EIAs) were introduced by the previous Labour government to make sure officials took account of disability, gender, sexual orientation and race in their decisions.

However, in November, during a speech to the CBI, David Cameron revealed that he wanted to abolish the requirements.

“We have smart people in Whitehall who consider equalities issues while they’re making the policy. We don’t need all this extra tick-box stuff,” the prime minister said.

His remarks were subsequently criticised by Labour and trade unions who claim abolishing EIAs could leader to greater discrimination.