0 thoughts on “Equality Act commenced today

  1. Everybody now has equal rights in the UK…except children born out of wedlock before 1 July 2006 to British fathers. Illegitimate kids aren’t allowed to have a UK passport, like every single other child born to a British parent is allowed to have.

    Rejoice, I guess?

  2. Rejoice for some, yes but is the Equality Act a step back for trans folk?

    According to
    http://www.complicity.co.uk/blog/

    a trans person or a person who is believed (or claimed to be believed) as trans can now be refused:

    – entry to a hospital that only operates single sex wards;

    – rape counselling;

    – entry to sheltered accommodation.

    Also, even a GRC holder is now classified as transsexual (despite the GRA).

    If the above is correct, the concept of legal transphobia appears to have been introduced. I have asked EHRC about this (some time back) without response.

    Given the move to single sex wards, are trans folk (or non-trans folk suspected of being trans) to be legally excluded, by any transphobic individual responsible for admissions, from NHS hospitals?

    I hope that I have got this wrong……..I will rejoice if I have!

  3. “it is a great pleasure to see it come into force.”

    Not for lots of trans people, it isn’t. For those if us with a GRC, we now have less protection from discrimination than we did yesterday. A sad day 😦

  4. I’m pleased you haven’t legalised Labour’s proposed sex discrimination – that really would have been such a terrible idea.

    As others have said it’s a shame there’s nothing outlawing the countless types of discrimination faced by fathers, not to mention men of retirement age.

  5. If you really want to see this government in its true and proper light and not hiding behind a screen of duplicitous words then take a look at the bills before parliament.
    Tribunal awards to be capped for discrimination, minimum wage to be decided by area, training wage not to be subject to minimum wage legislation, to name but a few.
    Equality? For whom? You’re having a laugh Lynne.

  6. The new law sends a message to the general public that it is OK to exhibit transphobia. I feel so angry!

    My assumption is that the GRA must now be amended to state that one with a GRC is now not the ‘acquired’ gender for all purposes and list what those purposes are.

    The ‘test’ that I always apply to discrimination / equality law is replace ‘trans’ with ‘black’ and consider if the result would be acceptable to the black population. Thus, how would a black person feel if she was excluded from rape crisis support sessions on the grounds that the person in charge was a racist?

    The question I ask is how and when did this discriminatory legislation sneak into the Bill?

    I have seen from the guidance that the ‘rape’ transphobia is ‘allowed’. If the hospital exclusion is correct for trans people (or members of the population who might be believed trans) is also correct, perhaps hospitals can be persuaded to provide ‘dying sheds’ in their car parks for terminally ill trans people?!!!

    As a non GRC holder I can be just as raped as a GRC holder (an identical physical process). Would I qualify for rape ‘support’ as legally I am a man?

    The GRA is also discriminatory as it allows ministers of religion who suspect a person might be trans to refuse to perform a marriage ceremony. Given that the Equality Act can also ‘catch’ people who might appear trans (very unfair!), perhaps all trans folk (with a GRC or not) should be forced to wear a badge so all can see their ‘status’?

    The first part of the trans action plan must seek to remove all forms of the recently introduced legalised transphobia. Will it?

  7. Paula some interesting points, but you’re completely missing the bigger picture with regards to rape. The problem with regards to rape laws isn’t any discrimination against trans people, but the discrimination against men.

    We’re so backward in this country that will still use the outdated, sexist definition of rape which requires a penis women cannot be found guilty of rape and men get almost no support when attacked by a female rapist. All that is needed is gender neutral rape laws and support then there wouldn’t be any sort of problems from transexuals as everyone would have equal rights.

  8. HHM – yes, there is so much inconsistency and discrimination and men are not always treated fairly. Things are indeed one sided.

    Well, as a post op trans woman I am actually considered a man in law. I can be just as ‘raped’ as a genetic woman but, because I do not have (an increasingly worthless) GRC, I would not have actually been raped. I am not sure if I even quality to attend rape counselling!

    Trans folk who need help here could find a particular rape counselling centre displaying a sign ‘We operate transphobic policies and trans folk or any that we assess as trans will not be treated’. Perhaps this is also possible for hospital single sex facilities generally?

    The GRA already allows ministers of religion to refuse to perform weddings involving folk suspected of being trans (yes, any manly looking genetic ladies – you could be discriminated against quite legally!).

    Somebody tell me that I have got this wrong.

    Some trans people ‘pass’ and service administrators may not even know about the person’s trans history. Alas, with all the computerising of medical records to allow these to be accessed by service providers in an emergency, we can be easily identified and ‘blocked’.

    I am sure that many single sex medical facilities with not operate transphobic policies but, as a person who has paid NI contributions all my working life, I do demand equal access to the the NHS.

    The GRA seeks to split my family for me to get legal recognition and complete my transition. The Equality Act would then redefine me as a transsexual and make it legal to discriminate against me. Trans people receive messages from EHRC saying how pleased it is that the Equality Act has come into force. I cried when I received mine.

    Apartheid claimed to be ‘separate but equal’. Trans are being separated out but are nowhere near equal. Will trans people be ‘bussed’ to hospitals not operating transphobic policies?

    Apparently there is no Parliamentary time for anymore equality legislation in the foreseeable future. Given what happened in the last round, this indeed is a matter for rejoicing.

    Has any trans person been consulted by GEO on its Trans Action Plan?

  9. Lynne: since I haven’t been able to get a good answer out of your department on this one, what is your position on the Equality Act not providing explicit protection against harassment for LGB people in almost any situation except employment (oddly, tertiary education is protected, but primary and secondary are not), and not providing explicit protection against harassment for trans children in primary and secondary education? Similarly the protections against religious-based harassment are not applied by the Act in most cases except employment.

    I remember that during the discussion of the Equality Bill in the Commons some of the Lib Dem MPs proposed amendments to take at least some of these exemptions from harassment protection out, though they unfortunately weren’t discussed for lack of Parliamentary time. Now that you’re in power, will these exemptions be repealed?

    (I’m referring here to Sections 29.8, 33.6, 34.4, 35.4, 85.10, and 103.2 of the Equality Act)

  10. Yes – Evan and I fought very hard over the differential discrimination in terms of LGB at school – and Labour took no notice. EU is looking at this too at the moment. Will say more when I know more.

    On all the trans concerns – I have raised all of these issues (as you know I would) and thus far am told that the legislation doesn not discriminate. I have asked for a detailed briefing on these issues – and will come back and post that information when I have it.

  11. Good to see you persisting with your selective responses to postings.
    Not bad for an equalities minister.
    Oh, and don’t come back with the old chestnut that you can’t respond to every post, you are being selective and deliberately avoiding the difficult issues.

  12. This new Equalities Act is going to be terrible for small and large businesses alike. It makes me and thousands like me even less likely to think of ever starting any kind of business where one would need to employ other people. I can’t believe the act is going through at all since it was proposed by that left-wing loony Harriet Harman. I suspect the Act must have been arm twisted through by the LDP as no true Conservative could ever back it. The LDP continues to show time again and again that they are not a party which understands or supports business or finance. Just look at their so-called business and finance expert, Vince Cable, who proved beyond doubt with his last speech bashing bankers yet again that he actually has no comprehension of economics, business, or finance and is more fit as the Anti-business minister than the Business Minister.

    So few politicians in Westminster today have ever worked a day in a real job in the private sector or run a business for profit, it’s no wonder the country is in the poor economic state it is in. The UK needs politicians who actually have worked at real jobs for a living or run successful businesses rather than professional politicians who have gotten where they are due largely to their inherited wealth and privileged backgrounds. It’s not just the electoral system that needs reform, it’s the whole Parliamentary system which has enabled the election of so many unfit politicians.

  13. Really disappointed that you didn’t respond to my comment (or any of my other comments). Would love to know why I, as an illegitimate child, born to a British father, offer you zero value in terms of nationality law in the UK. Why call it an Equality Bill when there are so many others suffering not included in the bill?

    Why is retrospective citizenship and adult registration of birth allowed for all children born to British parents, but those born out of wedlock prior to 2006 are told by UKBA that it can’t be done for us?

    I thought you were in our corner, Lynne. I really thought you personally valued us as well.

  14. Hi Lynne

    Thanks for taking up my concerns. I also hope that I have got things wrong but the exclusion from rape crisis is a specific example cited in the support documentation for the Equality Act. The Act also defines GRC holders as transsexual for some purposes. The single sex ward issue – ask the question ‘are there any circumstances in which a trans person, with a GRC, can be denied access to or moved from a single sex hospital facility?

    Many in the trans community are pinning their hopes on your Trans Action Plan. A concern is that the actions recommended might consist of yet more studies when the problems that we face have already been established (GEO Trans Workshop 15 March 2010).

  15. Dear Lynne
    There have been lots of posts discussing the wording of the Equality Act’s provisions for trans people, and your post yesterday suggests that you think the concerns raised are unwarranted. However, I haven’t seen any mention yet of the various booklets produced by the GEO to explain how the Act will work, all now available online. These ‘Quick Guides’ will be read much more widely than the Act itself, and thus will help set the tone for the working of the Act. They don’t offer much reassurance. Consider, if you would, the following words from the Quick-start Guide for Businesses (http://www.equalities.gov.uk/pdf/401727_GEO-BCC_QuickGuide2_acc.pdf )

    On ‘Gender Reassignment’, the Guide notes that “The business or service provider can decide whether and how a transsexual person can use women- or men-only services depending on all the circumstances. The decision must be objectively justified – in other words, it must be a fair and reasonable way of achieving a legitimate aim … Being fair and reasonable includes showing that you’ve looked at whether there are other ways of doing things which would cause less discrimination.”

    This seems pretty clear to me – the service provider has been given discretion to grant or withhold access to services. All they have to do is ‘be fair’ in making their decision; but everyone thinks their attitudes and actions are fair and reasonable; I doubt anyone really thinks of themselves as a bigot (maybe not even Nick Griffin).

    This section goes on to confirm that the manager of a women’s refuge has discretion on whether to allow access to a transsexual woman, and then turns to the use of toilets and changing facilities. Here is the most telling phrase. “Businesses are allowed to balance the rights of the transsexual user with those of other users”. What are these rights of other users? The answer comes next: in making their decision, service providers must take into account a number of factors, including “the likely impact on other users … in terms of privacy and the likelihood of serious embarrassment”. There it is: it’s the right not to have to share space with a stranger who makes you feel uncomfortable – in other words the right to have your prejudices acknowledged and validated. Try replacing the word transsexual here with black, disabled, etc. How does it sound?

    I really do not think that other posters have got things wrong here. When it comes to single-sex services, trans people are not having their rights upheld; instead, we are being granted privileges that can be withdrawn if and when other people find our presence objectionable or embarrassing. Sure, we can object and lodge a complaint, but all the service provider then has to do is argue that he/she was trying to be fair to his/her other customers. The tone of this Guide gives the impression that, when it comes to trans people, prejudice is OK.

  16. I very much thank and appreciate Paula for her support but some other people are still missing the point entirely here.

    Yes it’s wrong to discriminate against transexuals but why should they be such a special case? Some people here are simply pleading for transsexuals to the same privileges available to women such as access to domestic violence services, when the elephant in the room is the horrific and quite frankly ridiculous sexism in domestic violence services against men and their children (and male children or female vicitms).

    In Scotland females victims get £3,500 spent on them for every pound spend on men and the gap is just as bad elsewhere I think if not worse. To put this into context last month’s government figures showed 40% of vicitms to be men.

    Yes it’s hateful to ban transexuals form using services but they’re simply facing the same cotempt usually reserved for men now. We need less “women-only” this and that, and services that are available to everyone regardless of what genitalia they happen to to have. Can this government please put an end to Labour’s disgraceful policies discriminating against men and just start treating everyone fairly regardless of race or gender? I’d also echo the point by R Collins again and ask for a reply on that also – good to see quite a lot of agreement in here really.

  17. Trans folk do not want special rights. What we want is the removal of the special rights of others to discriminate against us. The Equality Act appears to have granted these special rights and undermined the value of holding a GRC.

    As I posted to Lynne, I hope that I have got things wrong but the Act support documentation is pretty specific (as is the definition of a GRC holder now being ‘transsexual’) and it will take a very skilled ‘Sir Humphrey’ to find a form of words to put out the fire!

    Perhaps the trans community should be asking for ‘gender identity’ to be re-classified as a ‘semi-protected’ strand of diversity to make the point?

    Is the UK now non-compliant with EU law?

    The requirement was to provide a mechanism to allow trans folk a legal change of gender but what seems to be happening is the creation of a third gender. If you are a member of this gender (or perceived to be a member (?)) one can apparently be excluded from services.

    Trans people often suffer from low self esteem due to having to live and grow up with a terrible issue. They suffer guilt when then get their medical condition treated and sometimes made to feel selfish. The State then reinforces this guilt / low self esteem with legislation the effect of which defines the trans person as some form of non person.

    There is a growing degree of frustration, hurt and anger in the trans community. Where will this lead to – Transwall riots?!

    Lynne’s GEO Trans Action Plan could be a positive step forward but could also be another nail in the trans coffin. The cynics are saying that the document will be a call for evidence gathering – more ‘process’ to delay ‘progress’.

    The problems suffered by trans folk and their families are known and pressing. I do hope that resources will not be wasted trying to define numbers affected in each problem area especially when ‘measuring’ the trans population can be (at best) an estimate. This is because of trans folks’ reluctant to identify as such (I would identify as woman and not trans, as would many like me). Furthermore, the Home Office has already sponsored work in this area and the size and growth of the population has already been estimated. If these data were 50% out – so what????

    Before undertaking ‘measurement’ work, ask the question ‘is the solution to the problem numbers dependent (having applied Eve’s ‘black’ test)?

    One piece of ‘hard’ data is available – ask HMRC how many folk have changed their gender marker and how many of these now have a GRC (and whether they are married or not). Then ask why less than 3,000 have a GRC.

    Spend the effort working on solutions (with the trans community)!

    And soon the consultation begins on the Human Rights Bill……….here we go again…..

  18. HHM,

    Thank you for your support about mine and all who experience the same situation I am experiencing. We kids sometimes feel as if we are all alone, without a voice.

    Just to stress the lunacy of British nationality laws, read this:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/local/stoke/hi/people_and_places/newsid_8809000/8809362.stm

    This girl is absolutely suffering. She is currently barred from working many jobs because she’s essentially an undocumented immigrant. Excuse me? An immigrant? She was born and raised in the UK to a British father!! How can this be? Why is this allowed to happen in “modern” Britain?

    I certainly hope the Freedom Bill corrects this craziness, because the NIAA 2002, the BCI 2009, and the Equality Bill certainly did not. What is the barrier to fixing it? The UKBA says there is no policy for retrospective citizenship or adult registration, yet they just handed over retrospective citizenship and adult registration to adult children born to British mothers last year. They are lying to us, and think that because we’re “just a bunch of useless illegitimates” we must be too stupid to see through their lie.

    What’s next? Children born to unmarried British fathers forced to wear red letter I’s on our foreheads? It’s certainly looking that way. 😦

  19. I see the coalition have failed miserably in their child benefit reforms from an equality perspective.

    If you were at all interested in equality you’d have supported this campaign- “Child benefit for two”

    http://www.cb42.org/

    Congratulations to the ten Lib Dems MPs (and all those form other parties) who have signed the EDM on the issue so far. Can you clarify your reasons for refusing to support it please Lynne? I thought you wanted to encourage and support shared parenting?

    http://edmi.parliament.uk/EDMi/EDMDetails.aspx?EDMID=39598

  20. In some ‘single sex situations’ (e.g. hospitals), it would appear that the GRA holder is no longer a man or a woman but also a ‘transsexual’ without the rights of non-trans men or women. This could work both ways. As the Equality Act has introduced the concept of a ‘transsexual’ GRC holder, perhaps this principle can be extended to solve the trans marriage problem?

    Specifically, if the GRC was awarded on the application alone (and why not?), the married trans GRC recipient could be considered ‘transsexual’ and thus not be in a marriage consisting of two women (in my case). The GRA has to be amended to reflect that the GRC holder is no longer the acquired gender for ‘all purposes’ so why not extend this and address the cruel requirement to end a marriage for the trans person to obtain (now reduced) legal rights?

    But, of course, trans equality does not work in that way. Instead of finding reasons why we should not be treated with dignity and fairness, why can’t the same energy be put into finding ways of giving us full equality and full enjoyment of our Human Rights?

    Of course the predictable response from EHRC on the apparently (now) legalised transphobia will be along the lines of ‘we will have to wait and see what happens in the Courts when test cases are examined’. Yet more delay …….

    When the law eventually gives trans folk full enjoyment of their Human Rights, we require monitoring systems that are effective and demonstrably on the side of trans folk. EHRC has a way to go to demonstrate that it is on our side (e.g. no Trans Commissioner and EHRC guidance documentation for the Act (in the context of single sex exclusion of a transsexual person) uses phrases like ‘a woman might object to the presence of a man (or vice versa)’. Excuse me??!!!

    The recent controversy generated by the conclusions from the Office for National Statistics about the number of LGB people demonstrates clearly the risk of embarking on further research regarding trans people. It will not be extensive enough to generate substantial new data. Even if it were, the wish the overwhelming majority of trans people to remain invisible would invalidate its findings. In the context of ‘Big Society’, it will be much more cost-effective to support the work on monitoring proposed by the new National LGB&T Partnership. Its proposal is that reliable data about Trans, as well as LGB, people are generated by carefully monitoring the staff and service users of public bodies, beginning with the massive number of people involved in the NHS.

  21. Facts are that the Tories in the House of Lords kept blocking more transsexual equal rights in the less than equal single equality bill, to the point that it became so watered down that it become not fit for purpose, perfect for a Tory government to pass as law, a Tory party which people should remember has never ever done anything for LGBT people, quite the opposite in fact.

    I predict with austerity measures hitting the less well off in society disproportionately than the rich and middle class. that many transsexuals like myself will find ourselves homeless and on the streets in Cameron’s brave new world where bankers are rewarded to the tune of billions for ruining our country, but punishing society’s less fortunate who didn’t ruin the country.

    We shouldn’t be surprised at what unfolds under this government, whilst I didn’t vote it in the people sadly did.

    I predict that they will roll back our basic rights one by one

  22. Dear Lynne

    The Equalities Act does set trans rights back years. I am a post op for a number of years and also have an intersex condition and was one of the first to get the GRA. Legally I am female now well so the birth certificate says but this law seems to legalise transphobia.

    I have had many run in’s with the state departments crb, jobcentre plus and other areas DWP and police who legally not only ignore the law regarding my acquired gender but still treat me as if I was male

    Consequently I feel the only way is through legal action through a public law specialist may be strasbourg needs to hear this all over again and the UK and your government needs shaming up for what they really are

    I will push for my case to go to europe. I am not a man and I am not second class citizen I have rights too. Do you really expect someone who looks reasonably good and passes to be denied treatment on a female ward, to use the men’s toilet to use the men’s room in the sports hall. Are your government like the Labour government that preceded it totally anti trans.

    Are you really saying trans people can’t be raped and if they are well it’s cos I is a man

    Please – the EA reinforces negative perceptions of trans people as being mentally ill deviants. We are not and some of us will take your government on

  23. One more thing, government has a role to play in the “big society” as your friend Cameron says. Likewise government has a responsibility to ensure that trans people are treated as humans with the dignity and respect they deserve which is the same as anyone else who doesn’t have a gender defect.

    I hope you remember that. And what a person to have to work with Theresa May of all people as anti trans as you can get in charge of Equalities. The Goodwin ruling has been undermined by this act and my solicitor agrees with that I hope I can challenge it in court and I would advise people in my shoes to do the same through pressure we can inflict change. Britain’s treatment of trans people is known for being the worst in Europe and inhumane

  24. Danielle

    You may be interested in seeking an invitation to the EHRC Trans roundtable with Commissioner Stephen Alambritis on Monday 8th November.

    ‘The aim of this meeting is to provide further information on how the Equality Act will simplify, strengthen and harmonise current legislation and to give you the opportunity discuss the new provisions in the Act and raise any issues or concerns.’

    Concerns?!!!!!

    The outcome of the meeting is predictable and will be ‘wait and see what the Courts make of things’. Can Lynne give us a guarantee that the outcome of the Trans Action Plan will not be identifying the need yet more data gathering, research etc and hence delaying the implementation of solutions?

    I have also argued that the recent Trans Inequality Act goes against Goodwin. Yes, the UK has to be dragged through the European Court yet again and it would be useful if a number of the issues could be explored at the same time.

    When the film is made of the struggle for trans equality, who will be cast as the villains?

  25. I was contacted by the young woman I mentioned in the link I provided above. Her MP has stopped fighting for/caring about her citizenship plight. He refuses to do anything else.

    This is such an easy thing to do. Have the Home Secretary step in and grant this poor girl UK citizenship, which is allowable under UK law. Why on earth should a child born and raised in the UK to a British father have to go through the trouble of naturalization when her own sibling, from the same exact father, is automatically considered a British citizen at birth? I am completely dumbfounded Lynne.

    Also, your lack of communication in regards to the inequal nationality status of children born out of wedlock to British fathers just proves you consider us less than human, bottom of the barrel, not even worth a mention, let alone the fight for our British rights.

    It was perfectly fine for your department to remove the application fee for children born to British mothers last month, but not even a thought of providing us kids born out of wedlock a pathway into Britain. You’re always catering to British mothers.

    Why don’t you come out and say it Lynne, you consider illegitimate children revolting.

  26. Hi Lynne

    Did you get a definitive briefing on the trans issues that I raised concerning the Equality Act?

    From what I have been told there are serious issues that should be addressed.

    I am also concerned to hear that both MoJ and GEO say that there is no plan to do anything about the disgraceful situation surrounding the trans marriage issue.

    I will now be ending my marriage on my Ruby Anniversary (in Apr 13). I will invite you, Lord McNally and DC to share the happy moment and then I hope that you will be able to attend the Court on the same day, to witness our tears of desolation, as we are granted a Decree Absolute so I can get my GRC.

    I hope that you will have the courage to attend.

    Paula