The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) and the Government Equalities Office (GEO) are facing legal action following accusations they have been issuing unlawful guidance which contradicts the Equality Act 2010.
Women’s rights organisation the Authentic Equity Alliance (AEA) says the EHRC has been distributing incorrect guidance on transgenderism for ten years and the GEO has done the same for the past five years.
The organisations incorrectly state that “trans people” or anyone with a gender recognition certificate have an automatic right to enter and use women-only spaces.
AEA founder Ann Sinnott, a former Cambridge City Councillor who resigned because the council was in breach of the Equality Act, pointed out that the law states that female-only spaces and services are lawful and that excluding transgender people does not equate to ‘gender reassignment discrimination’.
She says the “misguidance” has led to disputes as men who say they are women believe they have an absolute right to access female-only spaces.
Sinnott says this fails to uphold the Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED) requirement to “foster good relations between persons who share a relevant protected characteristic and persons who do not share it”.
She wrote to the EHRC and GEO earlier this year to complain about the situation but her concerns were largely dismissed.
When the EHRC did amend some of its guidance, the changes were not announced, and no attempt was made to inform any organisations, which Sinnott says is “unacceptable”.
AEA has now told the EHRC and GEO to “provide guidance that is compliant with the law” or face the possibility of a judicial review.
In a pre-action letter, the organisation asked the equalities bodies to ensure all amendments to guidance “will be publicly and prominently displayed and also disseminated to a list of specified organisations”, and that their “failure to meet their PSED requirement is rectified”.
Sinnott commented: “This case will make legal history.
“More importantly, it will redress the confusion about the single-sex exception, as noted at the 30 July 2019 meeting of the Women and Equalities Select Committee.”
‘Misrepresenting the law’
Elsewhere, a judicial review has been launched against the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) over its partnership with Stonewall.
Earlier this year the CPS withdrew controversial guidance on LGBT hate crimes in schools following legal action by a 14-year old girl who accused it of “misrepresenting the law”.
The CPS said it would review the guidance, but the girl told the prosecuting body that its association with Stonewall breaches the law, because while it remains partnered to the LGBT group it cannot be impartial on transgenderism.
Her lawyers instructed the CPS to withdraw from Stonewall’s Diversity Champions programme in May, but as it has failed to do so, they have now pressed ahead with applying for a judicial review.