Transsexuals could be granted official recognition of their assumed sex and remain married to an existing partner, an equalities minister has suggested.
Lynne Featherstone, writing on her blog over the weekend, also revealed that she supports making hostility towards transsexuals an aggravating factor in future prosecutions for ‘hate crimes’.
The possibility of transsexuals being allowed to remain married after their sex change has been legally recognised would in effect create official same-sex marriages in the UK for the first time.
At present a person who is already married but wants official recognition of their assumed sex, in the form of a Gender Recognition Certificate, must divorce their spouse before they can be officially recognised by the law.
But in her blog the Liberal Democrat MP indicated that this restriction was being reviewed ahead of the Government’s Action Plan on transgender equality which is due to be published next year.
If such a change was implemented it would mean that, in the eyes of the law, two people of the same sex could be legally married.
Miss Featherstone indicated the review in a blog post about transsexual issues where she said: “The requirement to get divorced in order to get the GRC – this will be part of what the transgender action plan looks at.”
Miss Featherstone also suggested that she supports making hostility towards transsexuals an aggravating factor in future prosecutions for ‘hate crimes’.
She said: “There are other issues that need to be addressed. I am aware that unlike race and sexual orientation in terms of hate crime – trans hate crime is not an aggravating factor for example.”
In her blog Miss Featherstone also solicited information from transsexuals which she could use to support her position.
However, the news is likely to alarm many Christians who are already concerned that the existing ‘hate crime’ guidance has led to a number of Christians being subjected to police investigations because of their ethical beliefs.
Earlier this year Christian street preacher Dale Mcalpine was charged under Section 5 of the Public Order Act 1986 after he described homosexual conduct as a “sin” during a private conversation with two Police Community Support Officers.
And last year Ben and Sharon Vogelenzang, who operate the Bounty House Hotel in Liverpool, were charged with a “religiously aggravated” public order offence after they engaged in a debate about Islam with one of their guests.
Aggravated offences, or crimes deemed to have been motivated by hostility against someone’s religion, race or sexuality, currently bear heavier penalties than other offences.
Critics of such offences say they are open to being misapplied, so that otherwise lawful behaviour is wrongly criminalised.