Inmate sues government over keeping trans women in all-female prisons The Times 27.10.20

The original article is here.

A prisoner is bringing a legal challenge to the government after claiming that she was sexually assaulted by a transgender inmate at an all-female jail.

A judge will hear tomorrow that the policy of keeping trans women prisoners in women’s jails breaches equality law. The judicial review, set to run over two days at the Royal Courts of Justice in London, involves a woman who was being held at a women’s prison last year.

The claimant is supported by the campaigning group Keep Prisons Single Sex, which said that the trans woman prisoner had been convicted of rape as a man.

Lawyers for the claimant will challenge the lawfulness of placing what the group describes as “male transgender prisoners” in the female estate after they have been convicted of sexual and violent offences against women.

The High Court will also hear a challenge to the policy of having a transgender unit at Downview, near Banstead in Surrey, where the claimant is being held. The claim will point out that the Equality Act 2010 stipulates that men may be excluded from single-sex spaces, services and communal accommodation for women “as a proportionate means to a legitimate aim”.

The prisoner’s lawyers will argue that men can be excluded from those spaces despite provisions in the Gender Recognition Act (2004) that allow males to obtain legal recognition of acquired gender.

The group argues that the policy of the Ministry of Justice and the Prison and Probation Service provides that transgender women with gender recognition certificates must be housed in the female estate and that men who identify as women but do not have the certificates may be held in women’s prisons under the policy.

Kate Coleman, director of the campaign group, said: “It is accepted throughout the criminal justice system that female offenders respond best in female-only settings and services.”

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