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Gender Recognition Act 2004

Women and Equalities – in the House of Commons on 17th October 2019.

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Photo of Elizabeth Truss Elizabeth Truss The Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade, Minister for Women and Equalities

The issue of the response to the consultation on the Act is very important. It needs time for consideration, and I will want to study it closely.

Photo of Christine Jardine Christine Jardine Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Home Affairs), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Justice), Liberal Democrat Deputy Chief Whip, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Women and Equalities)

Last night, at the PinkNews awards, Baroness Williams of Trafford, the House of Lords Minister for Equalities, said, “bear with us” on gender recognition reforms. Quite frankly, Minister, that is not good enough for people who are already going through one of the most difficult experiences they will ever face—more difficult than we can possibly imagine. They face abuse, discrimination and even, sadly, violence, just because of who they are. So I ask the Minister again: when will we see the results of the consultation, and can she assure me, and the people who are waiting on those results, that the most right-wing Government in decades will follow through on the GRA?

Photo of Elizabeth Truss Elizabeth Truss The Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade, Minister for Women and Equalities

I completely condemn bullying or violence towards trans people, but I do not think that that could be confused with the complex piece of work that is the reform to the Gender Recognition Act. In particular, I will not be rushed into it. I am very keen that we protect single-sex spaces and vulnerable women, and that we do not rush into reform before we have had full, proper discussion.

Photo of Dawn Butler Dawn Butler Shadow Secretary of State for Women and Equalities

I welcome the Minister to her new position and look forward to working with her on all these issues. I am losing count, but I think she is the fifth Minister whom I have shadowed since I have occupied this position. However, we do not start from the beginning every time we change Ministers.

Reform of the Gender Recognition Act was promised in 2016. The Minister does not need to look at it carefully; the Minister just needs to expose what came out of the consultation and amend the Act as promised. The Minister needs to stop kicking the can down the road. There has been a 37% increase in hate crime against transgender people, and the Minister is exacerbating the pain and the hurt in the LGBT+ community. Please, Minister, just reform the Gender Recognition Act already.

Photo of Elizabeth Truss Elizabeth Truss The Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade, Minister for Women and Equalities

As I have said, I completely condemn violence against trans people, and we and the Home Office are doing a lot of work to combat it, but I think it is completely wrong to conflate that with a complex piece of legislation that we need to get right. There are serious concerns about single-sex spaces and ensuring that vulnerable women are protected, and we should get the legislation right rather than rushing into things.

I am afraid that the hon. Lady is trying to make this into a political football. What I am interested in is making the right decisions for the people of Britain so that we have proper protection for transgender people and also ensure that we protect our single-sex spaces.