UK one of the worst places to be trans, with ‘widespread’ hatred, new data shows

The proposed ban would mean that, finally, engaging in conversion practice in Scotland is a criminal offence. (Getty Images)

The UK has been ranked as one of the worst places in Europe and Central Asia to be trans, according to a network of more than 200 trans-rights organisations.

Transgender Europe (TGEU) has published its 2023 Trans Rights Map, which illustrates the legal situation in 49 countries in Europe and five in Central Asia. 

Countries are ranked on a colour-coded map, with 30 indicators in six legal categories: legal gender recognition, asylum, hate crime/speech, non-discrimination, health and family. The more indicators a country has, the better it is for trans people and trans rights.

Iceland tops the list, with 26 of the 30 indicators, including having legal gender recognition, laws and policy on asylum, and a hate speech law. 

One year ago, the country published its action plan on LGBTQ+ issues, which includes an end to discrimination for queer blood donors, training in LGBTQ+ issues for police, and “appropriate and unbiased” healthcare for transgender men and women. 

The UK, however, is much lower on the indicators for trans rights, scoring 14.25 out of 30, to rank close to Ireland with 13, Netherlands 15 and Portugal eight. 

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Some of the lowest-scoring countries for trans rights include Russia, meeting just five of the 30 indicators, Turkey, with two, and Italy and Hungary with eight. 

UK drops from ‘progressive leader’ to ‘widespread hatred’

TGEU research officer Freya Watkins said of the data, which covers the past 10 years: “The United Kingdom and Hungary have gone backwards, from progressive leaders of our index in 2013 to places where anti-trans hatred is widespread in the media and government agendas.

“Ultimately, legislation means nothing without implementation. The past decade saw a big increase in states including gender identity in asylum protection laws, but, in practice, many countries continue to fail trans asylum seekers.”

The UK’s low score for transgender rights comes shortly after anti-trans comments at this year’s Conservative Party conference. Prime minister Rishi Sunak said: “A man is a man, and a woman is a woman, that’s just common sense”, while health secretary Steve Barclay proposed banning transgender women from female hospital wards, despite a study last year revealing that there had not been a single complaint about the issue.

Home secretary Suella Braverman supported Barclay’s proposal, saying: “Trans women have no place in women’s wards or, indeed, any safe space relating to biological women.” 

Sunak’s comments were followed by reports of him being expected to shelve the long-awaited conversion therapy ban, supposedly because similar laws have “proven problematic or ineffective in other countries”, and in the wake of “intense” lobbying by anti-trans Tory MP Miriam Cates. 

In addition, in the summer, the PM was secretly filmed mocking trans people, in footage shared exclusively with PinkNews.

Data released by the government on 5 October showed that transphobic hate crimes in England and Wales rose by 11 per cent, to 4,732 recorded offences for the year ending March 2023. The rise was potentially partly fulled by anti-trans politicians, the Home Office admitted.

In November 2022, TGEU found Ireland had the worst provision of healthcare for trans people, with Malta coming out on top.

The finding followed Ireland’s only gender clinic being so short-staffed that it can’t deal with the demand of 300 patients per year.

The International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association’s 2023 Rainbow Map, which shows how safe queer people are in European countries, was equally as depressing for LGBTQ+ people.

The results showed that the United Kingdom has once again dropped down the list, from 14th in 2022 to 17th this year. 

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