LGBT+ advocates dismayed as UK gov't scraps key transgender rights reform

Source: Reuters Published: 2020/9/23 18:38:40

People walk on Tower Bridge in London, Britain, on September 14. Photo: Xinhua

Transgender people will not be allowed to legally change gender without a medical diagnosis, the British government said on Tuesday, scrapping a proposed reform that sparked furious debate between LGBT+ and women's rights campaigners.

The government launched a consultation in 2018 on overhauling the 2004 Gender Recognition Act (GRA) to allow "self-ID" in England and Wales - a reform opponents said could allow predatory men access to women-only spaces such as toilets. While the "self-ID" proposal was scrapped, the cost for trans people to change birth certificates will be cut from 140 pounds ($180) to a "nominal amount" and the process will be moved online.

Trans rights advocates expressed disappointment at Tuesday's announcement on the outcome of the consultation. "It's a shocking failure in leadership," Nancy Kelley, chief executive of Stonewall, Britain's largest LGBT+ advocacy group, said in an emailed statement.

"While these moves will make the current process less costly and bureaucratic, they don't go anywhere near far enough toward meaningfully reforming the Act to make it easier for all trans people to go about their daily life."

Countries including Ireland, Portugal, Norway and Argentina have "self-ID," allowing trans people to legally change gender via a legal declaration and without doctors' involvement. Almost two-thirds of the 102,818 respondents to the British consultation said they backed removing the requirement for a diagnosis of gender dysphoria, a government report showed. More than three quarters said they supported scrapping the need for trans people to show they had lived in their gender for a specific time period - currently two years. But women's rights activists who had opposed the introduction of "self-ID," welcomed the news.

"It's really good news and it acknowledges a fair balance between trans people and women's rights," Nicola Williams of Fair Play for Women, which campaigned against the reform, told Reuters.
Newspaper headline: LGBT+ advocates concerned as UK govt scraps trans rights reform

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