Tory government would block Welsh gender recognition reform

Welsh flag on a trans flag backdrop

Westminster has hit back against the Welsh government’s hopes of reforming its gender-recognition laws, saying there “no plans” to permit any change.

In Wales’ new LGBTQ+ Action Plan released on Tuesday (7 February), the Senedd set out a list of actions it hoped to take to improve the lives of its LGBTQ+ population.

One pledge was to make obtaining a gender-recognition certificate easier for trans people, similar to the move attempted in Scotland – but the UK government has already struck down the idea.

A spokesperson from the UK government’s Equalities Office told PinkNews it wants to ensure that “LGBT people are treated equally” but would not budge on permitting devolved reform of the GRA (Gender Recognition Act) in Wales.

In 2022, Scotland voted through its Gender Recognition Reform bill. Passed by 86 votes to 39, it was set to reform the Gender Recognition Act for Scottish trans people, allowing them to gain legal recognition without the need for a medical diagnosis.

A Section 35 order was issued in January, blocking Scotland’s reform of its gender-recognition laws.

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The simple change would have allowed trans people to obtain a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC) without a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria.

‘No plans to reform the Gender Recognition Act’

Despite similar reforms across the world leading to trans people having a simpler and better life, the UK government seems to have given the idea the cold shoulder, claiming that reform would mean a safety issue for women and children.

“Ensuring that LGBT people are treated equally is a priority for this government. In recent months, we have committed to an inclusive ban on conversion practices, and we are taking steps to improve health care and eliminate new transmissions of HIV by 2030,” an Equalities Office spokesperson told PinkNews.

“We share the concerns that others have set out with proposed reforms to the GRC application process, particularly around safety issues for women and children.

“As a result of this, there are no plans to reform the Gender Recognition Act in England or Wales.”

Welsh Government launched it's LGBTQ+ Action Plan
Wales’ LGBTQ+ Action Plan was launched in Cardiff, and included plans to obtain its own gender-identity laws. (Welsh Government)

When notified about the UK government’s response to block their plans, a source from the Welsh government reiterated previous promises to “seek the devolution of powers in relation to Gender Recognition and support our trans community”.

While it is not known when negotiations are set to start to devolve powers related to gender recognition, it’s clear that Wales is determined to make life easier for the trans community.

How does a GRC benefit trans people?

Having a GRC allows trans people to update their birth certificate, get married or form a civil partnership in their affirmed gender, update their marriage or civil partnership certificate, and have their affirmed gender on their death certificate.

It has been wrongfully suggested by both prime minister Rishi Sunak and Labour leader Keir Starmer that the recent Scotland gender bill would have a negative impact on single-sex spaces.

Trans people are able to access spaces in line with their gender identity without a GRC under the 2010 Equality Act.

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