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UCU statement on Equality Act review and EHRC advice

13 April 2023

UCU has raised serious concerns about government plans to review the Equality Act and the advice given by the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

In a statement UCU said:

"The Government's plan to review the Equality Act 2010, with a mind to change existing provisions in relation to sex and gender, is an attack on the limited rights and protections to which trans people are currently entitled.

Changing the understanding of 'sex' to refer solely to 'biological sex' would effectively eradicate the ability of trans people to gain full legal recognition for their gender identity. This flies in the face of established UCU policy in favour of self-identification, and would enable acts of discrimination against trans and non-binary people to go unchallenged.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC)  is there to protect and uphold the rights of all groups who face discrimination. This must include trans and non-binary people, but at the moment the EHRC is failing in this part of its remit. It's advice to the government on this issue has highlighted a number of ways in which trans people would be excluded as a result of the changes being considered. 

Time and again, the Tory Government has shown itself to be against trans and non-binary inclusion - from blocking the path of Gender Recognition Act (GRA) reform in Scotland to their manufactured culture war against the trans community, one the of the UK's smallest and most vulnerable groups.

No legislation is perfect, but seeking to change an established law in a way that would actively remove rights from a marginalised group is deeply troubling. UCU is clear that the existing legal protections for trans people within the Equality Act 2010 must be retained and the government's attempts to sow further division must be resisted. 

We are also clear that our own union is an inclusive one which recognises that trans men are men, trans women are women and non-binary people's identities are valid. We are committed to inclusive spaces and practices and will continue to fight for the rights of our trans and non-binary members (for more information see our trans and non-binary inclusion statement)."

Last updated: 26 April 2023