Gender Recognition Bill [HL]
Lord Goodhart (Shadow Minister, Law Officers (Constitutional Affairs); Liberal Democrat)
My Lords, the Sex Discrimination (Gender Reassignment) Regulations 1999 introduced a number of new sections into the Sex Discrimination Act 1975. Their purpose was to extend the protection of the 1975 Act to transsexual people undergoing gender reassignment or who had undergone or intended to undergo it. The new sections did not extend the protection of transsexuals to the full width of the Act.
Section 2A, introduced by the 1999 regulations, extended the Sex Discrimination Act to cover transsexual people in relation to discrimination over employment under Part II of the Act, but did not extend protection against discrimination to the provision of goods and services under Part III.
Amendment No. 97 serves two purposes. First, it extends the rights of people undergoing or having undergone gender reassignment by forbidding discrimination in the provision of goods and services. Secondly, it recognises that male and female transsexual people will be entitled to the protection of the Sex Discrimination Act in their legal status as women. But discrimination may be specifically against male-to-female transsexuals and not against women generally; so there is a lacuna.
We see no adequate reason why the anti-discrimination legislation should be limited to discrimination in employment under Part II of the 1975 Act and not to discrimination in the provisions of goods and services under Part III of the Act.
The amendment's second purpose is to extend the protection expressly to transsexual people who have acquired, or intend to acquire, a gender recognition certificate. Gender reassignment, as defined in subsection (3) of Section 2A of the 1975 Act, involves medical treatment. That can, of course, be surgery, but it could also be hormone treatment without surgery. The majority of people who seek or obtain a gender recognition certificate will, as part of the process, undergo medical treatment of some kind, but it is not in fact a requirement of the Gender Recognition Bill that they should do so.
It seems pointless for a person who has obtained a gender recognition certificate to have to produce evidence of medical treatment to be able to bring a complaint about discrimination when the very existence of the certificate shows that they are people who are intended to be protected. The absence of any specific reference to people who have received gender recognition certificates may cause particular difficulties where the applicant has changed gender under the law of an approved foreign country and evidence of medical treatment would have to be obtained from abroad, which might present difficulties and perhaps involve the translation of documents.
Not only should the existing protection be extended to include Part III as well as Part II of the 1975 Act, but it should also involve a specific reference in Section 2A to those who have obtained gender recognition certificates, as well as to those who have undergone or may intend to undergo gender reassignment. I beg to move.