Trans challenge over equality advice The Times 07.09.20

The original article is here.

Equality watchdogs have agreed to drop contentious advice on transgender rights amid accusations that they misinterpreted the law on access to single-sex spaces such as lavatories.

A campaigner has claimed that the Equality and Human Rights Commission and the government equalities office have been giving legally incorrect advice to public bodies and businesses on whether trans-women have right of access to various female-only spaces.

Lawyers for Ann Sinnott, director of the Authentic Equity Alliance, say that both bodies misinterpreted the equalities law that sets out the exemptions to discrimination. Their guidance has been adopted by many training companies that specialise inequalities issues.

The Times has learnt that in July the commission wrote to campaigners saying that it would amend its guidance by dropping a sentence that read: “Where someone has a gender-recognition certificate they should be treated in their acquired gender for all purposes and therefore should not be excluded from single-sex services.”

However, Ms Sinnott’s alliance sent a legal letter this week to press the commission and the equalities office publicly to acknowledge that they have given legally incorrect advice and to alert employers and training companies.

Ms Sinnott said that her group fully supported the protection of transgender rights under equality legislation but that “what is at issue is an appropriate balance with the rights of women”.

The bodies were given until the end of the month to respond. A spokesman for the commission said: “We have received the pre-action letter and will be responding in due course.”

It emerged yesterday that a second court challenge relates to LGBT bullying and hate crime guidance that the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) in England and Wales agreed to withdraw and review after a teenage girl threatened legal action.

The guidance held that children could be guilty of criminal behaviour because of their thoughts, reactions or with whom they chose to be friends.

Lawyers for the girl are continuing with a challenge, alleging that because the CPS is affiliated with Stonewall, the campaign group for trans rights, the prosecutors are “not impartial”. The teenager asked that the CPS withdraw from Stonewall’s champions programme. The CPS refused, and the girl has applied for a judicial review.

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