International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:47 pm on 16th May 2019.

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Photo of Alan Duncan Alan Duncan Minister of State 4:47 pm, 16th May 2019

It is the duty of all people, be they managers or colleagues in the workplace, to stand up for anyone who may be discriminated against, and if a collective organisation of any sort in a company can assist an individual, I would wish it to be supported. We have nothing against trade unions doing things on that agenda in the workplace—[Interruption.] The hon. Lady gestures, but we would support any trade union endeavours to help to win the battle against discrimination and to protect individuals from bullying and inappropriate behaviour. I am proud that the UK Government are taking action in all those areas, as that shows our recognition of the extent to which the lives of LGBT people can still be improved, in order for them to be accorded the same dignity, respect and rights as all other citizens.

My hon. Friend Crispin Blunt referred to the Gender Recognition Act 2004, as did Mhairi Black, who made an excellent, powerful and very personal speech. Last year we held a public consultation on the reform of that Act, which allows transgender people legally to change their gender. We are analysing more than 100,000 responses and we will publish the outcome later this year. A lot of those responses were extraordinarily personal and contained individual stories and experiences which, if we are to take the consultation seriously, we must understand and properly digest. It would be wrong to say, “We’ve had the consultation and here is what we will do”, because we must use that body of work powerfully to inform the provisions that we need to convert into public policy. That will be followed by a call for evidence on non-binary gender identity that will inform policy in that field in due course.

More broadly, and crucially for the delivery of our action plan, we have created an LGBT advisory panel, with experts from the LGBT sector, academia and the legal world, to ensure that we can engage with the latest research and hear from people working directly with those affected by these issues. As in so many areas of policy, change cannot be affected by Government alone. These partnerships with civil society are absolutely vital.