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LGBTQ Legal Rights: What You Need to Know

LGBTQ Legal Rights

LGBTQ lawyers and activists have campaigned tirelessly over the past fifty years and have ultimately been integral in forcing successive UK governments to introduce a series of laws that have guaranteed legal rights and protections for the LGBTQ community.

Last July marked the official 50th anniversary of the Sexual Offences Act. This piece of legislation was not as comprehensive as it could have been, as it only partially decriminalised homosexuality in England and Wales.

Nevertheless, the landmark act marked the beginning of a series of legal measures that improved LGBTQ legal rights within the UK.

LGBTQ Legal Rights: Timeline

LGBTQ Legal Rights: What Next?

In July 2017, the UK government announced that they would conduct a review of the Gender Recognition Act 2004. This review aims to make the process much more straightforward and less reliant on medical examinations. Such a process would allow people to self-declare their gender (already in place in countries such as Pakistan).

The current process forces trans people to undergo a series of intrusive medical assessments and interviews with psychiatrists in order to ‘prove’ their gender identity.

In order for trans people to have their gender formally recognised in the form of a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC), they have to follow a lengthy and costly procedure. To undertake this, they are required to:

This panel ultimately have the power to approve or deny their application. As well as this, the current process gives spouses of transgender individuals the power to veto the GRC (or otherwise delay its issue) – known as the ‘spousal veto’. This also means spouses can end a marriage or partnership over the legal gender change.

Stonewall, an LGBTQ charity, supports a reformed Gender Recognition Act that requires no medical diagnosis or presentation of evidence for trans people to get their identity legally recognised.

They argue that it is important that the updated legislation recognises non-binary and intersex identities and gives trans people the right to self-determination through a simple administrative process.

This review is due to take place imminently and it is hoped that it will result in transgender and gender-nonconforming people getting the legal recognition that they deserve.


Published: 27/02/18     Author: Hannah Capstick

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