Paula's Place

Paula's Place

Monday, 31 January 2022

EHRC Unfit for Purpose

 I try to write about all aspects of my life rather than concentrate on any one single part. Recently I have written about my politics, my music, rugby and of course something about my gender identity will often sneak in. Today is an exception, this is all about my Gender identity, how it impacts on me, and how external events can impact as well.

Last week the Equalities and Human Rights Commission released a couple of statements concerning proposed legislation designed to protect LGBT+ people. The reform of the GRA in Scotland and proposed legislation to ban conversion therapy in England and Wales. Basically they came out against giving trans people the same protection against conversion therapy as LG and B people, they also recommended delay in changing the GRA in Scotland to  allow more time for consultation. Given that this has already been consulted on twice, and the process has gone on for years longer than any other legislation this appears odd to say the least. Given that the EHRC had already responded to both sets of consultations very much in favour it seems even stranger, I have to ask myself what has changed?

The answer is some of the members of the commission and the chair, new members have been appointed by the Government, a Government that has already shelved plans for GRA reform in England and Wales, despite official consultation being overwhelming, and the Conservative party winning a general election with it as a central pillar of their manifesto. I can only conclude that we have a transphobic Government, a Minister for Equalities who does not believe in Equality, and a EHRC that does not believe that Human Rights should be universal.

When I first heard all this on Thursday morning it knocked me for six, I ended up spending most of the day staying in bed crying into my pillow.

First I got sad, then I got mad, I have signed several open letters condemning the EHRC and have produced draft statements for organisations I am part of; but it is hard to believe that the commission, the Government or much of society actually care ~ after all if they did care why would they treat people like me like this?

This is Stonewall's statement on the matter

Today’s statements from the EHRC are an attack on trans equality and undermine EHRC’s core purpose of regulating, promoting and upholding human rights.

The two statements – in response to plans to legislate for a ban on conversion therapy in England and Wales, and Gender Recognition Act reform in Scotland - effectively seek to exclude trans people from improved rights and protections. 

They disregard findings from the UK Government’s own research and the largest ever survey of LGBTQ+ people in the UK, as well as the expert opinion of the UN Independent Expert on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity on conversion therapy and gender recognition. 

In these statements the EHRC is calling for further delays to legislation that our communities have been waiting on for many years. In both cases the UK Government and Scottish Government have given ample opportunity for consultation.

And so we urge both the Prime Minister of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and First Minister of Scotland, to continue showing leadership to recognise and protect trans people, and progress rights for our communities by supporting these key pieces of legislation. 

We are deeply troubled by the approach that the EHRC is taking to trans people’s human rights. Their approach appears to focus on pleasing a noisy minority of anti-trans activists, rather than promoting human rights for all LGBTQ+ people. 

The EHRC has a statutory duty to enforce the Equality Act 2010 and protect equality and human rights across all nine protected characteristics, including sexual orientation and gender reassignment. These statements do the opposite, by actively standing in the way of improving the rights of trans people.

The EHRC is also a UN-accredited National Human Rights Institution, and as such is expected to operate according to the ‘Paris Principles’, which include the commitment to promote and protect all human rights and to contribute towards a world where everyone, everywhere fully enjoys their rights.         

We believe today’s statements by the EHRC violate these Principles.  

This comes as the UK is named as a country of concern in a resolution by the Council of Europe, in which the General Rapporteur on LGBT+ Rights raised concerns about the growth in “highly prejudicial anti-gender, gender-critical and anti-trans narratives which reduce the fight for the equality of LGBTI people to what these movements deliberately mischaracterise as ‘gender ideology’ or ‘LGBTI ideology’.” 

Our communities need and deserve a stronger human rights institution. Stonewall calls on the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions to urgently review EHRC and ensure that trans people’s rights are effectively supported by this institution. 

And this is from the LGBT Foundation

It is with sadness and deep regret that LGBT Foundation is severing all ties with the EHRC.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) released two statements today about two pieces of LGBTQ+ rights legislation in the UK; the proposed conversion therapy legislation in England and Wales, and the proposed GRA reform in Scotland.

These statements are extremely damaging and cannot be supported in any circumstances.

EHRC has ignored the experiences of trans and non-binary individuals who have undergone unnecessary trauma. They suggest that LGBTQ+ lives are up for debate and medical scrutiny. They disregard expert opinion and lived experience - a humiliating and dehumanising action against our community with real-world consequences.

EHRC should exist to regulate, promote, and uphold human rights, and we believe it is no longer fit for purpose. Our position from today is clear: EHRC can no longer call itself a true human rights organisation.

We will write an open letter to the Government Minister for Equalities Mike Freer MP to share our disappointment at today’s events. We join other organisations and colleagues in demanding a review of the EHRC’s accreditation as an A-status National Human Rights Institution. We will make this letter public.

We stand with our peers that are rightly horrified by today’s events and reassure the LGBTQ+ community that we will continue to fight for equality and justice in the UK.

And finally a link to an article in "Pink Post" just to show that it is not just me that is outraged by all this, and thinks it's high time that the EHRC was made fully independent and actually did it's job, or closed down.

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