Newly appointed British Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, has made a concerning statement regarding Trans rights. He shared that he intends to revise the Equality Act to effectively remove the legal protections which protect Trans people from discrimination in the UK.
Under the current version of the Equality Act, which was established in 2010, Trans people can safely access same-sex spaces including emergency shelters, bathrooms and hospital wards. The document also provides legal protections against discrimination in the workplace which is particularly important as transphobia is on the rise in the UK.
In its current iteration, the law protects all Trans people regardless of whether they have a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC) affirming their gender, and there is no requirement to have undergone medical transition. Sunak has stated that he plans to amend the terms in Equality Act to suggest that sex refers to biological sex assigned at birth rather than gender.
Revoking these rights puts Trans people, particularly Trans women, at risk of being unable to access life-saving services. Women’s shelters provide protection for domestic violence survivors which is a crucial resource for Trans women who are victims of abuse.
Sunak has been elected during a turbulent time in British politics, and he is the third Prime Minister to take office in less than two months. When he was named Prime Minister, Sunak promised to lead with compassion and foster an accepting society, but proposing these amendments to the Equality Act suggest otherwise.
When asked about Trans rights, Rishi Sunak previously stated that prejudice against Trans people is wrong and that he would make the UK the safest and greatest country for LGBTQ+ people, but his recent statements are in stark contrast to these intentions.
Sunak’s LGBTQ+ equality voting history is concerning, and when asked if Trans women are women during an interview in August, Sunak responded, “No.” Sunak has also shared that he intends to shield students from LGBTQ+-inclusive sex education. In June, he stated that he would consider withdrawing the UK from the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). Russia is the only country to have done this so far.
This news comes at the same time that another delay in outlawing conversion therapy in the UK is being reported.
Four years ago, Theresa May first committed to banning conversion therapy, but those plans have yet to come to fruition. There was hope that the legislation would be accelerated this year, but progress is now on hold as newly elected equalities minister, Kemi Badenoch, was asked to review the current work before proceeding. A joint committee of MPs and Lords is expected to collaborate within the next year to finally introduce a conversion therapy ban and it is unclear if Rishi Sunak is committed to outlawing the practice.
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