Where do the Liberal Democrats stand on trans rights? 

Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey (C) walks in front of Lib Dem supporters with prospective parliamentary candidates Cameron Thomas, Tewkesbury (L), Roz Savage, South Cotswolds (2L), Max Wilkinson, Cheltenham (2R) and Paul Hodgkinson, North Cotswolds (R) while campaigning ahead of the forthcoming general election on May 23, 2024 in Cheltenham, England.

Following Rishi Sunak’s surprise calling of a general election, LGBTQ+ voters might be wondering where the main political parties stand on trans rights.

Polls predict that the 4 July election, announced on Wednesday (22 May), will result in disaster for the Tories after the party suffered horrendous results in the local elections at the start of this month. 

Former Tory MP Lee Anderson previously advised the Conservatives to put a “mix of culture wars and trans debate” at the heart of any election campaign. He had the whip removed in February for comments made on GB News, before defecting to the right-wing Reform UK party.

Lee Anderson pictured in his official parliamentary portrait. He is wearing a grey suit with a dark coloured tie and is standing against a grey background.
Former Tory Party deputy chairman Lee Anderson defected to Reform UK in March. (Parliament portrait)

Anderson’s comments sparked fear among the LGBTQ+ community, as queer issues continue to be used to stoke division. Knowing where each party stands on trans rights is, therefore, important.

Here is where the Liberal Democrats, often referred to as the Lib Dems, stand. 

Where do the Lib Dems stand on trans rights? 

The Lib Dems “reject all prejudice” across all protected characteristics and believe that “trans people are entitled to the same rights as everyone else,” according to the party’s website.

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It adds that any discrimination or harassment based on a person’s gender identity “constitutes a material disagreement with the fundamental values and objectives of the party”.

Disciplinary action can be taken if the party’s code of conduct is breached. 

The centre/centre-left party even has a page dedicated to trans rights, headed “Trans Rights 101”. It details information about the trans+ community and highlights a 2019 manifesto, in which the Lib Dems pledged to tackle the rise in hate crime, complete a reform of the Gender Recognition Act, introduce an “X” gender option on passports, extend equality law to cover gender identity and expression, and require schools to introduce a gender-neutral uniform policy. 

What have the Lib Dems said about the trans community? 

The Lib Dems have a good record of standing up for the trans community and celebrating dates that are important within it, such as the Trans Day of Remembrance.

“Let me be clear, Liberal Democrats will always stand up for the rights of everyone in the LGBT+ community, including trans people,” Edinburgh West MP Christine Jardine wrote in the party’s announcement to celebrate the event.

The Lib Dems have also been at the helm of efforts to improve trans rights. A 2020 motion entitled “supporting the trans and non-binary communities within the Liberal Democrats” called on members to implement gender-neutral toilets, adhere to pronouns and avoid unnecessary gendered language.

The motion reiterated that the party believes “trans women are women, trans men are men, and non-binary identities are non-binary”.

Christine Jardine
Christine Jardine said the party would always stand up for LGBTQ+ rights. (Ken Jack/Getty Images)

Last year, Lib Dem leader Ed Davey condemned Sunak after the PM mocked his support for trans women in a video obtained by PinkNews.

In the clip, taken during a party for the Conservative’s influential 1922 Committee, the PM is heard saying: “You all know that I’m a big fan of everybody studying maths to 18. But it turns out that we need to focus on biology.”

Davey told PinkNews that he found the prime minister’s comments distasteful. 

Sunak’s comments referred to Davey telling LBC’s Nick Ferrari that trans women “quite clearly” can have penises.

Lib Dems want a trans-inclusive conversion therapy ban

In response to a PinkNews enquiry about the main political parties’ commitments to trans rights, the Lib Dems were one of the few to respond. 

Jardine said that the party has “fought long and hard” for a complete ban on conversion therapy and said it is “disappointing” the Tories had – yet again – broken their promise to deliver legislation.

“Liberal Democrats will keep pushing the government to finally bring the ban forward, and, when they do, we will scrutinise it carefully to make sure the ban is watertight and trans-inclusive. We cannot allow this awful practice to continue.”

Ed Davey Launches The Liberal Democrats Election Campaign
Liberal Democrat leader Ed Davey (R) campaigning ahead of the news of a general election. (Geoff Caddick/Getty Images)

Lib Dems want gender recognition reform

Jardine also confirmed to PinkNews that the party is committed to reforming the gender recognition process to make it “less bureaucratic and intrusive” and to include non-binary people.

Inclusive spaces for all

The Lib Dems also believe all spaces should be inclusive of trans people. The party is “pushing the government to publish clear and comprehensive guidance on the use of any single-sex and separate-sex exceptions under the Equality Act”, she added.

“The aim of that guidance should be to ensure everyone who needs single-sex services – such as survivors of sexual violence or domestic abuse – can access them safely, to prevent unjustified discrimination against trans people, and to provide clarity and certainty to service providers and the public. 

“It should be produced in consultation with those most likely to be affected, including women who have experienced sexual violence or domestic abuse, trans people and providers of single-sex services.”

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