The UK Government's passive approach to LGBTQIA+ Rights.
With COVID-19 and Brexit circulating dominating the media, news regarding the LGBTQIA+ community has been over-looked. So here is what you may have missed regarding UK LGBTQIA+ news.
The Gender Recognition Act 2004 currently includes a longwinded process for transgender people to change the gender on their birth certificate. It requires a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria, which is classed as a mental disorder, and proof that the individual has lived in their gender for two years. This is known to have impacted the transgender community negatively by overly questioning and degrading them. This intimidating and invasive process requires transgender people to justify their gender in excruciating detail. They are also required to pay a fee of £140, which consequently reduces the accessibility of this process.
LGBTQIA+ groups within political parties have expressed grave concern over the current procedure and the possibility that new plans may make transitioning more difficult, threatening the everyday lives of transgender people. The Equalities Minister Liz Truss argued that reform of the Gender Recognition Act was “Not a top priority for transgender people." This has left the LGBTQIA+ community questioning whether the Minister is qualified to speak on behalf of the transgender community, whilst denying them rights such as the use of single-sex bathrooms, the removal of invasive medical diagnoses, and the introduction of a self-identification process.
In September, the Government responded to the discontent expressed by various LGBTQIA+ groups over the reform. However, there have been no changes to the requirements of an invasive medical diagnosis, cementing it as a necessity to legally change gender. The Government proposed a reduction of the £140 fee for the application, yet the number has not been disclosed. The process will still be assessed by one judge and one medical professional, with either having the authority to deny the application. The Government insists that they are taking action to ensure the process required for transition is becoming more accessible, whilst making little change to this unnecessary and intimidating procedure.
The Gender Recognition Act is not the first time the Government has been inactive in securing the rights of the LGBTQIA+ community. In 2018, it was promised by Boris Johnson and the Conservative party that conversion therapy would be completely eradicated under their office. This has not been implemented. Ministers have joined to describe the procedure as an 'abuse of the worst kind.' Boris Johnson has also added to these comments by agreeing on the procedures dangerous nature saying it is, 'absolutely abhorrent.' Despite the Government's passionate objection and promise to make this practice illegal, it is two years later and no progress has been made on this issue. Still, today, conversion therapy is legal and is still threatening the rights of the LGBTQIA+ community.
The National survey shows that 2% of LGBTQIA+ people have undergone conversion therapy, with 5% having been offered it. Clearly, this practice has not become extinct in the way the public perceives it to be. The lack of action from the Government to fulfill their promises to LGBTQIA+ individuals means that the community's rights are being threatened daily. This passive approach to LGBTQIA+ rights that the Government has chosen to proceed with negatively impacts our safety.
If the Government believes that it is not imperative to protected LGBTQIA+, this can affect the perception of our community by those who have little understanding of it. As we have regrettably seen in Trump's administration, the Government can most definitely exacerbate hateful narratives in society. The UK Government's failure to eliminate conversion therapy and make legal gender affirmation more accessible is a clear demonstration of the stagnation of LGBTQIA+ issues in the minds of those in power.
By Hannah Collier
Legal News Writer