Court of Appeal rejects gender-neutral passports

13 March 2020

The Court of Appeal has rejected a legal challenge against the government to introduce a gender-neutral option on UK passports.

Christie Elan-Cane, who claims to be ‘non-gendered’, has campaigned for an ‘X’ option on passports and argued that a policy preventing someone obtaining a passport with an ‘unspecified gender’ was unlawful on human rights grounds. She claimed that the UK Passport Office’s (HMPO) policy breached the right to respect for private life and the right not to be discriminated against on the basis of gender or sex.

Her case was initially thrown out by the High Court in 2018 and this week the Court of Appeal has upheld that verdict.

No breach of human rights

The Appeal Court said in the ruling: “The passport issue cannot reasonably be considered in isolation, given that the driver for change is the notion of respect for gender identity across the board.

“The court finds that there was no positive obligation on the state to provide an ‘X’ marker in order to ensure the right of the Appellant to respect for private life.

“Therefore, the current policy of HMPO does not amount to unlawful breach of the Appellant’s Article 8 private life rights.”

Common sense judgment

Tim Dieppe commented on the ruling: “This is a common sense judgment. People should not be allowed to obfuscate their gender on official documents. There are security issues to consider, as well as moral issues involved. I am pleased that the court has seen sense on this. We now call on the government not to liberalise gender recognition any further when it responds to the consultation on reform of the Gender Recognition Act.”

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