Carys Moseley comments on how transgender policy is changing in each of the devolved areas of the UK.
The summer holidays are nearly over and the UK government has still not announced its promised proposals regarding the Gender Recognition Act. This is completely unsurprising given the leaked desire to ‘placate LGBT people’ with a ‘conversion therapy’ ban instead. Many people have been sitting back thinking transgender ideology has finally been confronted, when this isn’t really the case.
What has actually happened is that activists have continued pushing their demands everywhere possible. Let’s have a look at what has been going on.
Northern Ireland hate crime review on shaky ground
One cause for concern is the Hate Crime Review in Northern Ireland, which could criminalise truthful speech about sexuality, sex and gender. Earlier this year Judge Desmond Marrinan claimed to be unsure as to whether free speech protections brought in in England to protect views on same-sex ‘marriage’ should be extended to Northern Ireland in the way that they were. A legal defence of both criticism of same-sex ‘marriage’ and of religion had been written into public order legislation in Northern Ireland. Judge Marrinan queried whether it would be better simply to rely on Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights. He noted that the Law Commission was looking at the matter in England, and that those opposed to retaining the specific protections argued that “they encourage homophobia.” This in itself shows a very worrying mindset.
In May, the Presbyterian Church of Ireland called for a guarantee that quoting the Bible would not become illegal. On 10 July, the Northern Ireland Justice Minister Naomi Long announced that the hate crime review had been delayed by six months. Originally intended in May, the findings will now be published in November. It is now unlikely that any new hate crime legislation will be brought before the Northern Ireland Assembly before May 2022. This at least gives some time for proper public debate on the issues involved.
Barrister warns of self-silencing
Last week, Thomas Leonard Ross QC expressed concern about free speech over sex and gender in relation to the hate crime review. On the one hand he pointed out that the ‘Public Order (Northern Ireland) Order 1987’ provides some protection. Judge Marrinan’s review includes considering whether to add gender identity to the list of protected characteristics.
Mr Ross told the Belfast Newsletter that most people would stay silent for fear that their words would be judged as “likely to stir up hatred.” The result would be that “most sensible people will simply [avoid] the debate entirely leaving the way clear to special interest groups to advocate an unpopular opinion without fear of contradiction.” He argued that this could lead to people being afraid of challenging an activist statement such as ‘there is no such thing as male and female’. Perhaps the most worrying aspect of his comments is that Mr Ross himself declined to give his own views on transgender issues for fear of causing offence.
Northern Ireland civil service rewrites reality
In light of all this, it is particularly alarming how the civil service in Northern Ireland has published a Trans Equality Policy Statement document mainstreaming transgender ideology amongst its staff. Particularly alarming is the expectation set out in section 17.3 that civil service managers will side with transgender employees in a dispute over single-gender facilities:
“Managers are expected to support the trans colleague’s rights on this issue and may do so by dealing with unreasonable behaviour through communication, discussion, education and adherence to the NICS diversity and inclusion values.”
It is important here also to note that the reforms to the Gender Recognition Act were never meant to extend to Northern Ireland. This has meant that there has been no real public debate in the press in Northern Ireland about gender self-identification. There is a real risk here that gender self-identification is pushed in through the back door by the civil service.
The Welsh Government speaks out of both sides of its mouth
Just before the summer recess, the Welsh Government made a ‘Statement in support of Wales’ Trans Communities’. The statement was made by the Counsel General Jeremy Miles, a Labour politician who is also an LGBT activist, and Deputy Minister Jane Hutt. The statement expressed disappointment at the UK government’s delaying of reforms to the Gender Recognition Act. The ministers went on to say this:
“This has caused significant distress and anxiety among trans people and wider LGBT+ communities here in Wales and the UK. We believe trans women are women, trans men are men and non-binary identities are valid. We restate our support for trans people’s right to self-identification.”
Naturally no scientific or medical evidence is cited to back up these claims, as there is none.
The Welsh Government then made a token reference to the right to single-sex spaces as follows:
“We have pressed for clarity in relation to references to single sex spaces, the methodology of ‘checks and balances’ and sought clear commitment that changes to the 2010 Equality Act will not be made.”
Part of the reason for saying this would be that policy on public toilets is led by Welsh local authorities, who come under Welsh public health legislation.
The Welsh Government hands power over to Stonewall
However, these prove to be meaningless words as it then goes on to say that it has put Stonewall the driving seat of its transgender policies:
“We have provided funding to Stonewall Cymru to begin work engaging stakeholders to develop an updated Transgender Action Plan for Wales.”
This makes it sound as if Stonewall has been given a small niche to cover, one that will not affect most of the Welsh population. The problem is that it has been given power over the Welsh Government’s Transgender Action Plan, which was first published in 2016. In reality, transgender policies clash with policies on sex-based dignity and rights, parental rights, children’s welfare, vulnerable adults, healthcare, free speech – especially in education and employment – and religious freedom. Clearly the Welsh Government has lit a huge match here.
The announcement ends with the Welsh Government saying that it will try to defend transgender ideology within the parameters of devolution:
“While the thrust of the Gender Recognition Act may deal with matters which are reserved, we will explore what actions may be open to us to support trans people in related areas which are within devolved competence.”
The most relevant areas where the Welsh Government has powers to act include education, healthcare, social care, children and local government.
Undermining democracy and free speech
Handing over power over matters requiring legislation (and therefore democratic debate) to such a controversial charity and campaign group as Stonewall is nothing short of tyrannical. In siding so brazenly with transgender ideology against scientific truth and medical reality, the Welsh Government is digging a very deep hole for itself.
This means free speech and freedom of religion – and specifically the duty to tell the truth and not to lie – is going to be undermined in all devolved areas of government in Wales – unless there is quick and decisive action taken to counter this move.
Scottish Government guidance redefines women
Just as the Coronavirus lockdown was coming in, the Scottish Government said it was shelving its plans to amend the Gender Recognition Act in Scotland. At least it made this public, unlike the UK government. However, the Scottish Government then published statutory guidance on the Gender Representation on Public Boards (Scotland) Act 2018. This is why the Spectator asked whether Scotland is changing the law on gender by stealth.
The Act as it stands sets a ‘gender representation objective’ that “a board has 50% of non-executive members who are women.” However, the new guidance includes ‘trans women’ (male-to-female transgender people) under the category of women. Section 2.12 of the guidance defines women using the following reasoning:
“Section 2 of the Act provides that for the purposes of the Act, ‘woman’ includes ‘a person who has the protected characteristic of gender reassignment (within the meaning of section 7 of the Equality Act 2010) if, and only if, the person is living as a woman and is proposing to undergo, is undergoing or has undergone a process (or part of a process) for the purpose of becoming female’.”
Criteria for counting as a ‘woman’
Complicating matters further, the guidance goes on to state that men who say they are women but who don’t have Gender Recognition Certificates must fulfil three criteria to be treated as women. First such a person has to have gender reassignment as a characteristic as defined by the Equality Act 2010. This means he has to propose to undergo, be about to undergo or have undergone gender reassignment partly or fully.
In addition, the man has to ‘be living as a woman’. This is explained as follows:
“This would not require the person to dress, look or behave in any particular way. However, it would be expected that there would be evidence that the person was continuously living as a woman, such as – always using female pronouns; using a female name on official documents such as a driving licence or passport, or on utility bills or bank accounts; using female titles; updating the gender marker to female on official documents such as a driving licence or passport; describing themselves and being described by others in written or other communication as a woman.”
The guidance concludes by making the following rather disingenuous claim:
“This provision only relates to the meaning of ‘woman’ in the Act. This does not have the effect of creating a new legal definition of woman in any other context.”
Of course it cannot have this direct effect – simply because the Act in question only deals with the makeup of public boards. However, it should be very obvious that this guidance will now be used as a precedent for similar statutory guidance elsewhere.
Scottish young adults want to criminalise truthtellers
If this guidance were not of sufficient concern, consider also the Scottish Hate Crime Bill tabled by the Scottish Government. Lawyers and campaigners have raised the possibility that it could criminalise free speech on various issues. The question is how much of the Scottish public also wants to criminalise speech.
The results of a recent survey in Scotland by Savanta ComRes make for rather sober reading in this respect. The survey asks whether respondents agree or disagree with the following statement:
“It should be a criminal offence to say that someone born biologically male cannot become a woman.”
The results show that fewer people agree with this statement than those that disagree. In other words, more people oppose making telling the truth about biology a criminal offence. However, the opposite is the case among 16-24-year-olds. Whilst as many as 40% of 16-24-year-olds agree, only 35% disagree with the statement.
Decline in support for public debate
The same survey uncovered a disturbing rise in negative attitudes to open debate. Nearly a quarter (23%) of people aged 16-24 agreed with the statement that “Disagreement and debate do not benefit society”. By contrast only 7% of people aged 55-64 agreed with this. Equally troubling is the fact that 37% of people aged 16-24 agreed with the statement that “It should be a criminal offence to disagree with same-sex marriage.” Just under one third (32%) of those of the same age disagreed with this.
This decline in tolerance and support for public debate among younger adults should trouble the Scottish Government. For many of these are the parents of the future, as well as future social leaders. A free society cannot stand when too many people capitulate to such narrow totalitarian tendencies.
New ‘woke’ Tory MPs demand reforms
Today the Times reports that new Tory MPs are demanding that the government push through the reforms to the Gender Recognition Act. The nine young MPs co-authored an article for Conservative Home on the subject which appeared yesterday. John Cope the deputy chair of LGBT+ Conservatives told the Times that up to 50 MPs could support the reforms.
The central assumption of these MPs is that people should be free to live their lives as they want. Unfortunately, the MPs proceed to ‘explain’ transgender policy to readers, in other words to reiterate transgender propaganda. They ignore all the evidence used to oppose the reforms. The arrogance of these new MPs is only matched by the total lack of government opposition to them. This silence speaks volumes.
Stay alert: fight for fundamental freedoms
The UK government’s deliberate avoidance of making a public announcement about transgender reforms has exposed a dangerous moral vacuum, or at least made its existence more glaringly obvious. Rumours have been swirling around that the Prime Minister had been persuaded not to ditch reforms to the Gender Recognition Act by his fianceé Carrie Symonds. Downing Street denied the rumours. An unnamed source explained that nobody really knew why the Prime Minister did not have a stomach for a fight over transgender policies.
This Prime Ministerial silence is very much part of the problem. It is just as bad as the virtue-signalling noises made elsewhere. What is needed is for people of conscience and good character to rise up with a new vision and challenge the corrupt, anti-democratic and post-truth culture that has been creeping up for so long. You can help us do this by alerting us to what is going on in your area.