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EHRC's actions are a 'pivotal moment' for transgender rights

EHRC's actions are a 'pivotal moment' for transgender rights

Jamie Wareham
Jamie Wareham
Jamie Wareham, he/him, gay,queer,disabled I started QueerAF to fund queer media careers. Will you join our movement?

Two statements from the EHRC this week, have caused a huge uproar.

They're part of a long-running pattern that started on day one of Boris Johnson's premiership when he kicked trans reforms into the long grass.

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Who are the EHRC, and what did they say?

The Equality and Human Rights Commission are an independent watchdog. They 'promote and uphold equality and human rights ideals and laws across England, Scotland and Wales'. It was established by Government in the Equalities Act in 2006.

This week they published two statements. One on the Gender Recognition Act reform - currently being consulted on in Scotland. The second on the, three years in the making, many times delayed, ban to so-called 'conversion therapy.'

Let's take the Gender Recognition Act first. The statement warned the Scottish Parliament from going ahead with their plans. They want to simplify the process transgender people use to update their gender on some documents. - i News

In a nutshell, they say that not enough consideration and time has been given to the matter. The Scottish Government has run two consultations, and it's barely been out of the press. Responding yesterday, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon reminded parliament how significant the move by the EHRC is, because "it actually represents a significant change in the position of the Equality and Human Rights Commission."

Meanwhile, UK charity Stonewall says their response to the 'conversion therapy' ban consultation effectively seeks to exclude trans people from the proposed rights and protections. Their suggestions could have a detrimental impact.

The pseudo-scientific practice, condemned by the UN and recognised as a form of torture is still rife, 7% of UK queer people have had or been offered it. While a Galop study this week found 1 in 4  LGBTQIA sex crimes happened as a form of trying to ‘convert or punish’ victims, just as conversion therapy does.

Why has the EHRC made these decisions?

As an equality body, you might be asking why these coming to these decisions? Political commentator Owen Jones suggests the EHRC has been compromised with Tory party appointees. And he's not alone.

Following these statements, LGBTQIA+ and human rights groups across the board - including UK Black Pride, Stonewall and Liberty - have called its international status as a national human rights institution to be reviewed. While Mermaids, Gendered Intelligence and the LGBT Foundation have gone a step further - and severed all ties.

This is a pivotal moment in our history when we should expect our “impartial” Equality Watchdog to see through the blatant distraction techniques of a very vocal minority and uphold the proposed outright ban on conversion therapy and improvement to gender recognition in Scotland. They have not. - Statement from trans charity Mermaids

This all in a week where the UK, has been grouped with Russia, Hungary and Poland. We've been named as a country where LGBTQIA+ rights are being undermined. The Council of Europe resolution called out the 'virulant' attacks on the community here. A resolution that curiously, some Labour MEPs tried to amend, as a QueerAF reader got in touch to tell us about.

This has been a fast-moving story. As the week draws to an end trans organisations are now calling for a boycott of the UK Government's 'Safe To Be Me' event. Whether it's pinkwashing or hypocrisy for the UK to host a global LGBT conference with all of this going on? We'll leave that up to you.


The anger out there this week is palpable. Human rights groups now say the EHRC statements on transgender rights undermine its ability to do its job.

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