EHRC blasted for celebrating Trans Day Of Visibility just days before shafting UK’s trans community

Women and Equalities Minister Kemi Badenoch leaves Number 10 Downing Street

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has been slammed for celebrating Trans Day of Visibility just days before seeming to advocate amending the Equality Act to exclude trans people from single-sex spaces.

On Tuesday (4 April), the EHRC published a letter responding to women and equalities minister Kemi Badenoch’s request for advice on a potential amendment to the Equality Act, which could see the definition of “sex” being seen as “biological sex”. 

Roundly criticised by experts – including two former legal directors of the EHRC – the letter explained that the new definition would “bring greater legal clarity” in several areas, including making it easier to “exclude trans women from women’s sport” and from single-sex spaces.

On 31 March, EHRC had shared a graphic celebrating trans visibility, just days before the letter.

LGBTQ+ activists criticised the EHRC for posting about Trans Day of Visibility ahead of the letter being published, with one Twitter user saying: “What a gross joke of an organisation to push for the legal stripping of the lived existence of trans people literally four days after posting this.”

Others referenced the Trans Day of Visibility tweet, calling the EHRC a “joke of an institution”.

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Currently, trans people who hold a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC) have their gender recognised as their legal sex.

Changing the definition could, therefore, interfere with how GRCs are used.

“As things stand, a women’s book club, for instance, may have to admit a trans woman who had obtained a GRC,” EHRC chairwoman Baroness Kishwer Falkner wrote. “On the biological definition, it could restrict membership to biological women.”

Her letter recommended “detailed policy and legal analysis” before any changes are made. 

While no decisions have been taken by the government, and the letter only containing guidance to be reviewed, the EHRC’s words have been slammed by the LGBTQ+ community and some former members. 

Elizabeth Prochaska, a former EHRC legal director, wrote on Twitter: “This is a profound and wilful misinterpretation of the law. It endangers trans people and does nothing to ‘protect’ women.” 

Another former employee claimed: “I used to work at the EHRC and I’m ashamed of what it has become.  There will be many good people there who will be horrified by this. The fact that our human rights regulator is considering removing the existing rights of a minority group should terrify us all.”

LGBTQ+ charity Gendered Intelligence said in a statement to PinkNews: “We cut formal ties with the EHRC last year, believing it to have lost its independence as a body and becoming a mouthpiece for the UK government.

“They continue to fail to uphold the rights and dignity of transgender people, and, as this latest letter shows, have seemingly abandoned their duty to preserve equality in favour of undermining our legal protections.

“Trans people are still entitled to all the protections against discrimination afforded by the Equality Act, including protections against discrimination or exclusion in any of the ways detailed in this letter… rest assured that services and institutions are no more empowered to exclude trans people than they were yesterday, nor do we expect this to change any time soon.

“We don’t believe that the UK public are waiting for an excuse to exclude trans people… this letter is the work of a few individuals fighting a culture war for political expediency only.”

A government spokesperson told PinkNews: “We are committed to protecting women’s rights and the minister for women and equalities regularly seeks advice from the independent equality regulator as part of her role.

“We have received advice from the Equality and Human Rights Commission on the Equality Act and will consider it in the usual way.”

PinkNews has contacted the EHRC for further comment.

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