Liz Truss urged to ‘come clean’ after LGBT+ groups deny meeting the minister to discuss gender law reform

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The Conservative minister for women and equalities, Liz Truss, has been accused by Liberal Democrat peer baroness Liz Barker of hiding details of meetings she had about the Gender Recognition Act.

Baroness Barker, who is the LGBT+ spokesperson in the House of Lords, said in a statement this week that Truss is hiding details of the meetings she had about Gender Recognition Act reform.

Barker also cast doubt over Truss’ claim to have consulted with two LGBT+ organisations in particular as she formulated the government’s response to the 2018 public consultation on reforming the Gender Recognition Act (GRA).

According to Barker, Truss told her in July that she had consulted with a long list of organisations about GRA reform, including Trans Media Watch and the LGBT Consortium.

In a statement, Barker said that her parliamentary researcher was the chair of LGBT Consortium and a trustee of Trans Media Watch throughout the time Truss has been the Tory equalities chief and confirms that Liz Truss has never met with either organisation, and has only met the CEO of LGBT Consortium once (so far) in his role on her LGBT Advisory Panel.

“The clear intent to avoid answering a simple question about who the secretary of state has met in any lobbying capacity indicates that she has something to hide,” Barker said. “She should come clean, admit that she’s not met with anyone who would be affected by the reforms she has rejected, and address any bias in who she has met.”

Barker added: “Liz Truss is also avoiding questions and scrutiny of her decisions by the way she released the statement on her intentions for Gender Recognition Act reform. This is not an appropriate way for a government minister to behave.”
In July, junior equalities minister Kemi Badenoch said in response to a written question on this issue that “on the matters of gender recognition and transgender rights, I have held a number of meetings with external stakeholders and relevant colleagues across government to gather a wide range of views”.

Truss announced that she would not be reforming the Gender Recognition Act this week, after changes to the law were first proposed by then-prime minister Theresa May in 2017.

Responding to urgent questions in the House of Commons yesterday (24 September), Truss alleged she had met with as many as 140 LGBT+ and women’s rights groups regarding Gender Recognition Act reform.

More than 108,000 people responded to the government’s 2018 survey about legal recognition for trans people, with the results showing that the public overwhelmingly supports removing the need for trans people to have a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria before getting their gender legally recognised.

Instead of reforming the GRA, Liz Truss has instead promised to reduce the £140 fee for legal gender recognition to a “nominal amount”.