EHRC caught tampering with Human Rights tracker at request of anti-equality organisation

by Mallory Moore

Wed Feb 16, 2022 (updated: Thu Feb 17, 2022 , 07:14 )· 781 words · 4 min

This evening, a Twitter user noticed something odd about the Equality and Human Rights Commission's human rights tracker page. This site publishes an assessment made by the EHRC of the progress (or regression) implemented by the British Government towards international human rights commitments. Publishing these assessments, tracking the United Kingdom's progress or decline on these, is part of the function that the EHRC is supposed to serve as part of a global network of "National Human Rights Institutes", which are supposed to adhere to a set of internationally agreed ideals called the Paris Principles. Alongside monitoring and promoting human rights, one of the Paris Principles is that these government mandated equality watchdogs known as NHRIs must operate and make assessments and guidance which are independent of government interference.

From comparing an archive recording of an earlier version of the assessment made last year to the current state of the assessment page, it was discovered that the wording describing the status of reforms to the Gender Recognition Act had been altered since its original publication a year ago. This change reframed a failure to implement significant GRA reform in a more favourable light with respect to current government policy under Women and Equality Minister Liz Truss.

Before, EHRC progress page describes failure to remove unnecessary barriers. After, EHRC page describes not demedicalising, and presents this not as something which had previously been recommended (it had), but as something which had been previously called for by 'some groups'.
Before, EHRC progress page describes failure to remove unnecessary barriers. After, EHRC page describes not demedicalising, and presents this not as something which had previously been recommended (it had), but as something which had been previously called for by 'some groups'.

Further investigation by @TransLibertyUK revealed, using recently published documents acquired under the Freedom of Information Act, that this change happened after the LGB Alliance had made a request for this wording to be changed. Alarmingly, the note below the assessment log in both cases shows the date of the assessment of the UK's status (18th March, 2021, 2 months before the LGB Alliance made their complaint about the language to the EHRC), with no indication that this assessment which the EHRC had made as a supposedly independent National Human Rights Institute had been amended to meet the requests of a known anti-trans organisation.

Also concerningly, the LGB Alliance had in this case contacted Baroness Falkner, the current chair of the EHRC on her personal parliamentary email address at the House Of Lords rather than via contact to an official address at the Equality and Human Rights Commission. This use of an unofficial personal contact channel would likely have made it harder for researchers to properly access information about decision making at the Equality and Human Rights Commission through standard transparency processes. Like all government funded and mandated bodies, the Equality and Human Rights Commission is under a legal obligation to be transparent to the public in many of its workings, and as such, this use of alternative personal contact access effectively evades legally required transparency in the workings of the organisation.

This incident would appear to cement recent claims made in Vice World News in conjunction with FOI documents acquired by Steph's Place that the EHRC have been colluding with the hate group LGB Alliance which was has repeatedly targeted the UK's biggest LGBT+ charity and attacked trans related rights reforms. This incident also lends weight to recent accusations that Baroness Falkner was appointed by minister Liz Truss to suit 'politicised' aims.

For more on the history of the LGB Alliance see our profile of them here, and our more recent coverage of anti-trans literature distributed by guests at their conference. The LGB Alliance were also recently found to be lobbying anti-conversion therapy priests to support loopholes for conversion practices based on gender identity.

For more background on the recent failures of the EHRC we have documented its direct attempts to stall GRA reform in Scotland and add loopholes to the conversion therapy ban proposals as well as its apparent participation in a wider abandonment of trans rights in the United Kingdom.