Back in 2015, the Conservatives seriously considered bringing in a law which would have meant that people could just self declare that they are male or female and that would be recognised by the law. This would have happened if Brexit had not got in the way.
Maria Miller, who was the Secretary of State for Women and Equalities went through all the steps to make that the law. There was an inquiry by a select committee. All the witnesses seem to have been transgender rights activists. No women’s rghts campaigners were invited. There was a public consultation. At that point women’s rghts groups woke up.
As far as I can tell, Maria Miller survived Cameron standing down in 2016 but fell when May went in 2019.
The trans rights lobby expected self ID to become the law. At the forefront of the trans lobby is Stonewall. They run a number of different schemes whereby organisations and companies can show their support for “the LGBT community”. The entire public sector is signed up to their schemes. Nottinghamshire Police decided to withdraw from the scheme as it took up too much time. The Chief Constable stated that.
“Trans inclusion” means that people can self identity as whatever gender they want. They can then access services in accordance with their gender. That is not the law of this country. So we know that the entire public sector supports something which is not the law of this country. This helps to explain why public sector bodies have drawn up policies which embody trans inclusion and do not conform to the laws of this country.
And when you have self ID as the official but unlawful policy of the public sector you get a conflict of rights. The trans lobby want the rights of women, which are clearly set out in law to be set aside.
Liz Truss is expected to be a Trade Minister and Secretary of State for Women and Equalities. She has hinted via a leak to the press that she will not bring in self ID. She has also hinted that she will try to find a way to strengthen/clarify the rights of women.
We are expecting a formal announcement before the end of July.
I am very clear that when a citizen, or a group of people say whiskey distillers, or farmers or women or any other group feel that the government is infringing on their rights, that the solution is to bring a judicial review case.
There are a number of judicial review cases currently working their way through the courts. There is a case relating to the definition of hate crimes. There is a case relating to young people being prescribed puberty blockers. The hearing date for this case is 7 and 8 October 2020. There is a case relating to hate crime policies for schools. The CPS egged on by Stonewall think it should be a hate crime for teenage girls to object to boys who claim to identify as transgender to use their toilets. The case was stopped in the how that a settlement could be agreed. I believe there may be a second stage of the case that examines the role of Stonewall in public policy.
By the Autumn it should be much clearer what the law relating to trans and women’s rights is.
I hope is that a combination of clarity from Liz Truss and these various cases means that public sector bodies will withdraw policy documents they have drawn up which don’t comply with their law. There is no guarantee that they will do so. It seems likely that a judicial review may be needed to force them to do so.
Women’s Rights in Scotland
Scotland has a separate legal system from England. Under the Devolution Settlement some things are dealt with by the Scottish Parliament and some by the Westminster Parliament. Equalities law is something that is reserved to Westminster.
However in Scotland they have a law which relates to the representation of women on public boards. The board used to use the definition of woman contained in the Equality Act 2010. However, the Scottish Parliament recently decided to change the definition. The new definition is that a woman is anyone who identifies as a woman. Using that definition means you will have people like this (see below) taking all the places.
I believe that the change has recently taken effect. The fact is that the women in Scotland who oppose this new definition need to bring a legal challenge to it, basically now. There are strict time limits with these things. Thus far, women have not been very good at defending our rights through the courts, partly due to the cost and partly due to the fact that women obviously come in all sorts of shapes and sizes and are spread across all the political parties. We are not a homogenous group, like say fishermen or whiskey distillers.
Luckily in England and Wales we don’t have anything similar to this Scottish legislation. But we don’t want this definition of woman taking hold. I do wish the women in Scotland would get their act together and bring a challenge to the law, while there is still time.
Scotland is also drawing up a new hate crime law. It is obvious that the law will stifle free speech. We have the ridiculous situation where someone like JK Rowling who has made it clear that she supports women’s rights but is in now way anti trans, could find herself prosecuted for hate speech. If Scotland is going to be a one a party state with a government that wants to take it back to the seventeenth century when people with unpopular views were burnt at the stake, I would rather they became an independent country.