LGBTQ+ Rights Under Threat

Si Jones discusses the government's decision to reject the proposals from the consultation of the Gender Recognition Act. 

After two whole years of ‘umming and ahhing’ on when to publish the results of the consultation of the Gender Recognition Act (GRA) reform, the government has decided to……… not follow the results. 

The consultation which was launched when Theresa May was still Prime Minister had received over 100,000 responses with 70% of those declaring that they support the reform of the GRA to allow for self-identification of gender and the first steps towards transgenderism not being a medical condition anymore. However, a government source states that officials believed the results were skewed by a flurry of responses from trans activists. 

Instead, they have decided to add extra safeguards to enforce single-sex spaces such as toilets, prisons, and changing rooms which reaffirm provisions in the Equalities Act 2010. 

Whilst provisions made under the GRA 2004 allow for those who have or are working towards gaining a Gender Recognition Certificate (GIC) to use the correct toilet, it is a concern of the LGBT+ community that this update to the law may prevent those with ‘the wrong anatomy’ to use facilities they need. 

This news follows that the Minister for Equality, Liz Truss, is to prevent 16 and 17-year-old trans people from accessing the correct services they need. This is despite young transgender people have some of the highest self-harm rates amongst their peers, with 33% attempting suicide. It is likely that new regulations such as these will only serve to increase this rate. 

Even within Labour, there is a division amongst members on whether to pledge fully to the GRA reforms. The LGBT+ Labour leadership hustings earlier this year were disrupted after transphobic audience members shouted down Long-Bailey and Nandy for their support of trans rights. 

However, the concerning abrasion of LGBT+ rights has been happening in the social aspects of life, not just politics. With a lack of Pride festivals to attend in 2020, major brands unable to make a profit have been readapting their Pride Flags to become NHS rainbows in a clear example of queer-erasure. As a result, up and down the country ordinary people have started to associate the six-striped LGBT+ symbol as denoting the NHS, rather than a political emblem against the oppression of the LGBT+ population, inadvertently causing the loss of a symbol to a minority group that still hasn’t achieved full equality in 2020. Right-wing gay commentator Darren Grimes only further ‘helps’ this situation by stating that Pride is unnecessary in 2020 as we do have full equality after all. Who knew? 

To make matters worse, JK Rowling then in a series of scathing attacks on the trans-community the author published an essay linking trans rights with Donald Trump, Incels and Pornography, “From the leader of the free world’s long history of sexual assault accusations and his proud boast of ‘grabbing them by the pussy’, to the incel (‘involuntarily celibate’) movement that rages against women who won’t give them sex, to the trans activists who declare that TERFs need punching and re-educating, men across the political spectrum seem to agree: women are asking for trouble. We can only imagine the mental damage it has done to young trans people who may have looked up to Rowling and have been treated so harshly by her. Luckily, this has been widely denounced as cast members, and even the Body Shop, rush to denounce Rowling’s views and support trans rights. 

As a party, Labour must ensure that we challenge the government on policy in the Commons and become the party of equality once again, so we can enact real change once in power. We cannot be divided on the rights of people, we must be the ones to strive for it. Just as we enacted equality laws last time we were in power, we too will once again. But we must do it together. 

Si Jones gained a degree in Nursing from the University of Liverpool and currently works for the NHS in Liverpool. He is a member of LGBT+ Labour and sits on the northwest LGBT+ UNISON committee. 

He tweets @SiJ0nes

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