The UK Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) published two statements pushing government bodies to hold back civil rights reforms affecting trans people. One of these was sent to the Scottish Cabinet, telling them to pause plans for reforming the Gender Recognition Act, citing the "polarised debate", and a lack of "detailed consideration" of the issues.
Scottish parliament has been through 2 rounds of consultation on GRA reform, and before the current chair was installed by the Conservative and Unionist party, the EHRC had made a clear recommendation in favour of reform of the GRA 2 years ago, where they made directly contradictory statements fully supporting GRA reform and recommending that current regulations should be greatly reduced.
The EHRC made a further submission to the UK Government conversion therapy consultation. This included suggestions that the government should consider allowing exceptions in cases where SOGI change efforts were "consensual" and bizarre claims that the terms "Conversion Therapy" and "Transgender" were ill defined (despite the fact that this proposal is currently at a consultation stage allowing expert bodies and human rights advocates to have input into defining specifically what sorts of practices should be banned). The EHRC made suggestions that a ban might interfere with minors' medical consent rights (known as Gillick Competence, a persistent target of anti-rights groups for the fact it allows minors the right to abortion and contraceptives without parental consent) and directly recommended against banning "exploratory" therapy or efforts to "encourage" people to comply with religious doctrines around sexuality or gender identity. "Exploratory therapy" is an increasingly ambiguous term, which traditionally refers to to a range of valid therapeutic techniques. However increasingly, some therapists associated with the pro-conversion-therapy lobby have been using the term in a way that includes efforts to "explore" looking for a presumed psychic injury underlying trans gender identity, with a view to changing or ideally "curing" it into acceptance of the patient's registered sex at birth. The EHRC submission also urged that government make clear exceptions for "psychological medical healthcare" including "support to... reconcile a person to their biological sex where clinically indicated, including for children and young people aged under 18". This plainly falls under widely accepted definitions for "Conversion Therapy", otherwise known as Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity or Expression Change Efforts (SOGIECE).
It is disappointing that only a day after the United Kingdom has been rebuked for its sliding LGBT human rights record, the EHRC is putting pressure on Scotland to hold back rather than move foward with reforms. We know that long delays and public debate have exacerbated rather than ameliorated public toxicity, giving more time for populist hate groups to demonise a minority. This is part of a trend of UK governmental bodies abdicating responsibility towards trans people . The EHRC's response to the UK government consultation of conversation therapy is also extremely concerning.
Point 7 in particular appears to grant free-license to perform anti-transgender conversation therapy.
There is already a wealth of evidence that Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Conversion Efforts are extremely harmful and damaging practices. The UN's report on so-called conversion therapy outlines the harms these approaches cause..
Other LGBTI+ and human rights organisations speaking out
The EHRC statements were also subject to unified outcry across the UK LGBT+ sector. (If we have missed your organisation from the list of those mentioned here please get in touch with your statement so we can add you to the list.)
We note with concern the EHRC letter released today. One point that we are particularly concerned about however, is the suggestion that individuals - including children - can give "voluntary and informed" consent to conversion practices.
All forms of Conversion Therapy and Conversion Practices are based upon the prejudiced notion that being LGBT+ is undesirable and the pseudo-scientific notion that this can be "cured" or "fixed" through often abusive "treatment".
We reiterate our position is that people cannot consent to abuse, torture, and the harm caused by practices that cannot deliver what they promise.
Any ban on conversion therapy must be fully comprehensive.
Not only is this disgraceful for a Commission that claims to support equality, it is disrespectful to all survivors of abuse. We owe it to them – past and present – to stop making excuses and stamp out this practice now. According to the EHRC, “more detailed consideration is needed before any change is made to the provisions in the [Gender Recognition] Act.” How much longer can we consider? We have been waiting five years and two consultations for the Government to fulfil its promises. How long is long enough? Every delay sends a message: transgender people don’t count, transgender people aren’t valued, transgender people don’t deserve rights. Every postponement brings another wave of harassment and discrimination, fuelled by a government who refuse to support the marginalised and the vulnerable.
TransActual expresses our disappointment at the EHRC’s failure, once again, to understand that they need to protect the rights of trans people as well as everyone else... That the EHRC can be so out of line with established, mainstream international views on human rights is an ongoing alarming situation, and further reinforces our view that the Commission has not been fit for purpose for some time.
Reform of gender recognition is one of the most consulted-on policies of all time with two comprehensive public consultations by the Scottish Government since 2017. The draft bill was fully consulted on a year ago, and everyone had their say. The EHRC itself responded to both public consultations, supporting reform... Tim Hopkins, director of the Equality Network said, “The EHRC is not independent of government, but has its Board directly appointed by Liz Truss and the UK Government. We assume that their appointees are responsible for this letter and for failing to stand up for equality for trans people. We do not need UK Government appointees telling us in Scotland how to legislate in devolved areas and we look forward to the Scottish Government proceeding with this legislation soon, as has been promised many times.
Like many other LGBT+ organisations we are very frustrated and disappointed by what we have seen from the EHRC tonight. The UK trans community deserves much better than this. We will produce 3 threads on aspects of this. On Conversion Therapy, the EHRC has asked that proposals to legislate to protect trans people be paused. Amongst their incoherent reasons for this position, they implicitly refer to the Bell/Tavistock case – one that concerned consent to medical treatment, not conversion therapy. Further, the Court of Appeal completely demolished the High Court’s decision in this case, leaving the law unchanged. Critically also, 20 health counselling and psychotherapy organisations – (ALL expert/major bodies) - banned Conversion Therapy in relation to gender identity in 2017. https://bacp.co.uk/events-and-resources/ethics-and-standards/mou/ Yet the EHRC talks of a ‘lack of evidence’ in this area. This is clearly rubbish.
Trans women's group Steph's Place said:
At Steph's Place, we believe the EHRC are in disrepute.
We have been investigating them for many months, sent dossiers to MP's and third parties.
The information we have discovered will be made public very soon.
After years of toxic abuse stemming from the GRA "debate", we say no more. No more pathologising. No more ridicule. No more demonising. We’re not asking for much: just respect and recognition, and to be left in peace to get on with living our very ordinary lives. So it’s bitterly disappointing to see the EHRC seek to elongate what has been an exhausting and upsetting period of time for our community.
We're extremely concerned to see our equality watchdog specifically suggest protection for trans people should be further delayed, when we know – and Government data illustrates - that trans people are also victims to this form of abuse. There can be no more heel-dragging.
It is with great sadness and deep regret that LGBT Foundation is severing all ties with the EHRC. The Equality and Human Rights Commission released two statements today... These statements are extremely damaging and cannot be supported under any circumstances. We stand with our peers and are rightly horrified by today's events and reassure the LGBTQ+ community that we will continue to fight for equality and justice in the UK.
The EHRC has a statutory duty to enforce the Equality Act 2010 and protect equality and human rights across all nine protected characteristics, including sexual orientation and gender reassignment. These statements do the opposite, by actively standing in the way of improving the rights of trans people. The EHRC is also a UN-accredited National Human Rights Institution, and as such is expected to operate according to the ‘Paris Principles’, which include the commitment to promote and protect all human rights and to contribute towards a world where everyone, everywhere fully enjoys their rights.
We believe today’s statements by the EHRC violate these Principles.
Pride Cymru condemns the EHRC for its ill-informed and dangerous transphobic stance. Yesterday's statements by the EHRC show an organisation that is failing to discharge their stated aims and stand up for human rights. Its board has rejected sound and researched policy, and endorsed dog whistle transphobia. EHRC is effectively denying the human rights of trans people, influenced heavily by hate groups. We're troubled that the EHRC is no longer fit for purpose, under current leadership. We call on Welsh Government to be a beacon of hope, and deliver on its promises to the trans community.
We will continue to advocate for the basic rights of our trans and non-binary family. Solidarity always.
Full LGBTQ+ equality in the UK is long overdue and so today’s announcements from the Equality and Human Rights Commission are beyond disappointing. At a time when the Government is undermining the rights of everyone in the UK, from protest to equal access to voting, we need a regulatory body that stands up for rights and freedoms. The EHRC is doing the opposite. It is putting obstacles in the way of equality by adding further unnecessary delays to vital legislation and undermining the health and well-being of LGBTQ+ people in the process. For the EHRC to make such a damaging intervention calls in to question whether it is serving its purpose and Liberty supports the calls for the EHRC’s status as a national human rights institution (NHRI) to be reviewed.
Yesterday’s statement from the EHRC makes it clear that they have not understood the reality of conversion therapy in the UK. Galop supports LGBT+ victims of this kind of abuse every day, and we have a number of concerns about the effects the EHRC’s statement may have on protecting the people we work with. We do need a clear definition of so-called conversion 'therapy' in the upcoming ban – one that recognises the wide range of psychological, physical and sexual abuse that LGBT+ people are subjected to in an attempt to cure, change, or suppress our identities. We must ensure that the ban protects all victims from all backgrounds who are experiencing this abuse, in all its forms. There is no ban for LGBT+ people in the UK that does not include our trans and non-binary siblings. Conversion therapy must be banned because being LGBT+ is not an illness, therefore it is not possible to cure us. If that is true for LGB people, then it is true for trans and non-binary people. The report we launched yesterday showed that our trans and non-binary siblings are disproportionately affected by sexual violence intended to 'convert' or 'punish' them. Sexual violence is only one aspect of what conversion therapy looks like in the UK. It is vital that this ban protects the whole of the LGBT+ community – and leaves no one behind. LGBT+ people should continue to have access to affirming services that support them, and spaces for them to explore their identities. The important difference is that those spaces should not have a pre-determined outcome. Everyone should be supported to come to their own understanding of who they are, and no one should be forced to be someone they're not. We see the significant and long-term effects of so-called conversion therapy on the people we work with. We must not delay the implementation of this life-saving law – every day that passes without a ban leaves LGBT+ people unprotected.
Yesterday’s statements from the EHRC are an unwelcome and unwarranted attack on Trans equality. We believe that these two statements (one in response to the call for a ban on conversion therapy and the Gender Recognition Act in Scotland) are actively seeking to exclude Trans people from improved rights and important legal protections. Trans Rights are Human rights. The Comments from EHRC undermine their core purpose of promoting and upholding equality and human rights.
We support this - please read the thread below!
Trans Rights are Human Rights.
There can be no excuses, no delays and no loopholes in legislation around a ban on conversion therapy.
It should be noted that this recommendation by the EHRC would place England and Wales as international outliers removed from the international consensus of states seeking to protect LGBTQ+ people from conversion practices. During the 4 years of delays, additional research periods and extended consultations that have occurred since the UK Government first promised to ban conversion practices, other countries and states such as France and Canada and Victoria State in Australia have moved ahead and outright banned conversion practices for sexual orientation and gender identity. No other comparable country, state, territory, region or city has passed a ban on conversion practices without including gender identity.
We have seen incredible strength of feeling from our members, and Consortium share concerns about the statements made by the EHRC.
The statements released yesterday demonstrate an attempt to stall vital legislation, which LGBT+ people have already been waiting on for several years. These delays are unacceptable and undermine the rights of our communities. Any further attempt to further delay legislation in these areas after the extensive consultation which has already taken place is an attack on the rights of LGBT+ people.
Consortium joins with its Member organisations and allies in expressing enormous concerns about this development.
The public has been consulted extensively over many years on both the GRA reform in Scotland, as well as in England and Wales, and a ban on conversion therapy.
The EHRC statement appears to propose that legislation to ban conversion therapy should exclude gender identity. On 26 January 2021, Galop published a report that shows the shocking extent of abuse towards trans people in the name of conversion therapy.
Several other countries and states such as France, Canada and Victoria State in Australia have recently enacted an outright ban on conversion practices.
We stand with all trans and non-binary people – in defending their human rights, dignity and safety.
The EHRC has engaged in two consultation processes, and directly with the women’s sector, confirming on numerous occasions its previous position. Namely, that the proposed changes to the GRA would have no impact on the existing exemptions in the Equality Act 2010.
The authoritative interpretation of the law on single-sex spaces is set out in the EHRC’s own guidance and the Code of Practice on the provision of single (or separate) sex services. This has most recently been robustly reinforced in May 2021, in R (on the application of Authentic Equality Alliance) v Commission for Equality and Human Rights, available here: https://bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Admin/2021/1623.html
The EHRC’s letter provides absolutely no legal reasoning for such an abrupt change in their own position, and we ask them to urgently set out the legal basis underpinning this change, if this exists. ...
We are concerned at the repeated attempts to derail the process of making minor reforms to the Gender Recognition Act, which will improve the lives of trans people in Scotland. This only serves as a distraction to the urgency of achieving women’s equality in Scotland and will lead to a regression in human rights for all.
Trans In The City has spent several years attempting to engage with the UK Government in a positive conversation around its approach towards trans people.
We have received very little response in our efforts. In the few cases they have responded, it has often been hostile...
In light of this week's events, Trans In The City will not be supporting the Government's "Safe To Be Me" conference this summer.
Following the recent challenge to the UK from the Council of Europe for its inadequate protection of the LGBTI community, leading to an ‘extensive and virulent’ attack on their rights, it is hugely disappointing to see the Equality & Human Rights Commission (EHRC) supporting further delays to the Gender Recognition Act (GRA) reforms in Scotland. This is based on the views of a small but vocal minority who are actively working against the best interests of trans people.
It is also very concerning to see the EHRC response to the UK Government Consultation on Banning Conversion Therapy, published yesterday. This states that the report lacks clear definitions of the terms ‘conversion therapy’ and ‘transgender’, but these both have very straightforward and specific meanings that the EHRC should be able to understand if qualified to comment on the issues in question.
As an organisation defined by its dedication to human rights, the EHRC should be committed to supporting the rights of trans people over and above the ideological resistance of a minority of anti-trans campaigning organisations. The Feminist Gender Equality Network strenuously protest the EHRC attack on the rights of transgender people, and those of the wider LGBTQIA+ community.
These statements concerned plans to legislate a ban on conversion therapy in England and Wales, and also discussed the Gender Recognition Act in Scotland, in which the rights and protections of trans and non-binary people were notably absent.
With countries such as France having recently banned all forms of this horrific practice, we know that a future free of conversion therapy is possible.
We stand with the other organisations in our community that have come together not only to denounce the EHRC's statements, but also for their unfaltering support of the most vulnerable within our diverse family.
Together we can fight this.
We share the LGBT+ community’s concerns regarding the Equality and Human Rights Commission in the aftermath of their interventions on Wednesday. As Labour members, we are acutely aware of how crucial the proper functioning of the EHRC is. However, it can only be an effective body if it has the confidence of the communities it is supposed to advocate for...
With their recent interventions it is clear that the EHRC has lost the confidence of the LGBT+ community, with LGBT Consortium, LGBT Foundation, Stonewall, the Equality Network, the Rainbow Project, Gendered Intelligence, Mermaids, the Ban Conversion Therapy Coalition, End Conversion Therapy Scotland, Ban Conversion Therapy NI, Amnesty U.K. Rainbow Network and Liberty, all condemning the EHRC’s interventions. It is deeply concerning that such a wide variety of LGBT and human rights organisations are losing faith, to the extent that it’s role as a National Human Rights Institution is being questioned.
This is all the more worrying when the EHRC is due to be publishing guidance on the operation of single-sex spaces, the moral panic around which has created a deeply hostile environment for trans and non-binary people accessing essential services. The guidance is likely to be challenged and not viewed credibly by our communities if the EHRC cannot demonstrate engagement with the LGBT sector.
After reviewing this document, GIRES' trustees felt compelled to call attention to the attempt in this respose to legitimise a wide range of CT practices (as defined by The Cooper Report, which was produced by a cross-party group of MPs, peers, barristers, academics and other experts, chaired by Baroness Helena Kennedy, QC) by suggesting that they should fall outside of the definition to be used in legislation....
It is difficult to imagine a trans-inclusive definition of CT that would not include attempts to "reconcile a person with their biological sex," as a prime example of CT. Indeed, this kind of language also repeats the pro-CT talking point that there is 'insufficent evidence' that CT harms trans people, which is false. Even if this were the true, the burden of proof that a medical intervention does not cause harm is on the provider (e.g. licencing medications), except where inaction has been shown to do harm (consider chemotherapy) – therefore, unless being trans in and of itself constitutes harm (it does not, but the EHRC seem to think it does), this argument does not undermine the necessity and appropriateness of a trans-inclusive CT ban...
We are disappointed, but hardly surprised, by this latest example of the deteriorating quality of the EHRC's output and its ongoing capture by a deeply socially conservative 'gender critical movement'. Trans and gender-diverse people are not yet treated equitably under law, and long-standing human rights protections for trans people are under attack.
Following the EHRC’s letter to you on the 26th of January 2022, we would like to share with you our reaction.
The letter frankly hurt and angered us. After taking time to assess and manage our emotions, we have compiled our thoughts and feelings into this document.
While this “debate” plays politics with our lives, our community experiences significant violence, not just in confined and gendered spaces but online, in the streets and everywhere we go. We believe this is indefensible.
As we see it, the Scottish Government has a choice. It can choose to agree with the advice from the EHRC and continue to fall drastically behind on LGBTQ+ rights. Or it can choose to make meaningful and progressive change, something the Scottish Government was once proud to be at the forefront of and is ostensibly committed to in the current programme for government.
No more waiting, no more consultations, it’s already too late for too many. We have suffered enough. We have lost enough of our friends, family and people we never even had the chance to meet.
We’re extremely concerned and disappointed to see the harmful statements released by the EHRC regarding the government’s proposed legislation on 'conversion therapy' in England and Wales, and the proposed reform of Scotland’s Gender Recognition Act.
The EHRC’s statements do not support the human rights of ALL LGBTQ+ people, nor do they promote and support the urgent need for further trans equality in the UK. Trans and non-binary lives are not up for debate.
Just this week, the Council of Europe singled out and condemned the UK alongside Russia, Poland and Hungary for extensive and consistent attacks on LGBTQ+ human rights, and alarming levels of transphobic prejudice.
Our Inclusivity Development Manager, Dr. Christoper Owen, is currently analysing the EHRC's documents with the view to providing the community with a full and thorough information resource, which we will release in the coming days.
My Genderation is deeply concerned by the statements by the Equality And Human Rights Commission (EHRC) regarding the proposed GRA reform in Scotland and the proposed legislation on conversion therapy in England and Wales.
The experiences and trauma our community has had to endure has been ignored and pushed aside, and the devastating effects of it only made worse by an institution which in its name should uphold and acknowledge our lives and experiences.
In a film we released in 2013, an older trans man described his experiences of conversion and electro-shock therapy that he had to endure.
His story is one of many, and even today trans people are subjected to modern conversion therapy, where their identities are diminished, suppressed and shamed.
It’s shameful and abhorrent that the EHRC chooses to ignore this, and for the government not to take a firm stance with trans people and their rights. The government and EHRC cannot continue to pride themselves of being supporters of LGBTQIA rights when their action, or lack thereof, has shown the complete opposite.
We are disappointed that - after a series of appointments from the Tory Government - EHRC have backtracked on their previous policies to undermine the case for GRA reform and a conversion therapy ban.
We do not have faith in them to uphold and protect equality and human rights.
We stand with our trans siblings and we join Stonewall in calling for the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions to urgently review EHRC and ensure that trans people’s rights are effectively supported.
On 26 January 2022, the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) released two statements in response to legislative plans to ban conversion therapy in England and Wales, and Gender Recognition Act reform in Scotland. The statements and its recommendations represent a disappointing and continued disregard for our communities. The calls for delays in legislation is a move that prevents LGBTQ+ people from accessing improved rights and protections.
Our report found that one in six LGBTQ+ young people were forced to commit sexual acts against their will by family members before they became homeless. Whilst not explicitly stated, many of these young people will have been subjected to some form of ‘conversion’ therapy. We are failing to protect these young people if we choose to delay legislation to end this abhorrent practice once and for all. 40 percent of our service users identify as trans or non-binary and our report showed how trans young people experiencing homelessness were more likely to have faced abuse.
74 percent of young trans people said their family members repeatedly belittled them to the extent that they felt worthless before they became homeless. The discrimination that trans young people face does not end when they leave home. One in five young trans people stated they faced discrimination when accessing support because they were trans, and the same number had experienced misgendering or deadnaming while accessing services. We should be looking at ways to improve support available to trans people not creating a sense of distrust in the community as to whether institutions will protect their human rights. We stand in solidarity with our community and will be signing an open letter with other LGBTQ+ organisations to the ERHC and we encourage others to do so.
Friends, Family and Allies - Please don't let the EHRC leave us behind. Help fight for #transequality Transgender flag Sign Stonewall's Open Letter! #transrights
Trans Radio UK is a community led organisation that cares deeply about the whole LGBTQ+ community. Proud to have presenters and listeners alike from all aspects of the community and beyond, we strive for equality and rights for all. Trans Radio UK are extremely saddened and concerned to have seen the latest harmful statements given by the EHRC. We stand firmly beside all the fantastic LGBTQ+ organisations who have also now condemned the EHRC statements.
Trans Radio UK will continue to stand up and speak out against any acts of aggression towards the LGBTQ+ community, and will not condone any form of transphobia, wherever it may come from, no matter whether the public or the Government.
We believe that everyone regardless of their gender identity or gender expression should be entitled to live safe and happy lives. We believe the actions by the EHRC are transphobic and raise concerns of the significant risk to wellbeing, health & lives of trans people in the UK.
So-called Conversion Therapy is abuse. Every day we work with people who have experienced these barbaric practices and we know the real impact they can have on LGBTQ+ communities in the UK and throughout the world.
EHRC's statement will have a significant detrimental effect on our service users, colleagues, friends and supporters.
We stand in solidarity with so many of our partners in the LGBTQ+ sector and are proud to sign Stonewall's open letter calling for the inclusion and protection of trans rights.
Stonewall Housing will not attend the 'Safe To Be Me' conference or any space that is not safe and inclusive of the trans community.
On the recent statements published by the Equality and Human Rights Commission on the governments’ consultation on conversion therapy, Amnesty International UK disagree unreservedly in the EHRC’s assessment of separating protections for LGBTI people and specifically excluding trans people from initial legislation.
These statements are actively damaging to the rights of trans and non-binary people in the UK, and we find them to be disappointing and deeply troubling.
We encourage the UK and Scottish Governments’ to continue to show commitment and leadership on human rights by delivering on their commitments to reforming the Gender Recognition Act and introducing a comprehensive legislative ban on conversion therapy that protects the whole of the LGBTI community, including those who are trans and non-binary.
We stand in solidarity with our partners in the LGBTI sector.
The two statements made this week by EHRC regarding the banning of ‘conversion therapy’ in England and Wales and the reform of the Gender recognition Act in Scotland effectively excludes the trans community from the protection and rights to which they are entitled.
The UK, along with Russia, Hungary and Poland have been rightly accused of infringing the human rights of its LGBTQ+ communities and of transphobia by the Council of Europe. Having had sufficient time for consultation, the two statements ask for further, unnecessary delay. We have waited long enough. We call on Boris Johnson, Nicola Sturgeon to provide leadership and to recognise and protect the rights of the Trans community without further delay or hindrance.