Three years ago today, we formed Woman’s Place UK with the specific aim of supporting women to respond to the consultation on the Gender Recognition Act (GRA) and to ensure that single sex exemptions were upheld. Despite the fact that this was a public consultation, and the government said it particularly wanted to hear from women with concerns, our views have been dismissed and derided from across the political spectrum.
Over the last three years, many other women (and some men) as well as several other organisations have joined the campaign. That the government has been forced to listen is down to the work of thousands of women speaking up and making themselves heard in the face of threat and intimidation.
Our demands have always been reasonable and yet were dismissed as bigotry. We have always supported the rights of trans people to live their lives free from discrimination and harassment. We also understood that a conflict of rights would need to be addressed.
Today the Government’s announcement is broadly in line with what we were calling for:
- Respectful, evidence-based debate and for women’s voices to be heard.
The principle of women-only spaces to be upheld – and where necessary extended.
A review of how the exemptions in the Equality Act are being applied in practice.
Government to consult with women’s organisations on how self-declaration would impact on women-only services and spaces.
Government to consult on how self-declaration will impact upon data gathering
It is good that the Minister has clearly stated that the single sex exemptions can be invoked where justified but we know that service providers are not meeting the needs of women and we will be working to ensure that these exemptions are properly understood and utilised so that women’s rights are upheld.
There is still much work to do – not least in Scotland where the Government is still not listening. But everywhere, organisations and service providers have leapt ahead of the law and created policy which is in breach of the Equality Act (2010) and which is impeding women from accessing their rights.
We will be looking at the announcement in more detail and will issue a more detailed response soon.
22nd September 2020