It is hard to know what to make of this government. For a moment I thought they have got it. The fact they didn’t make changes about “safe spaces” for women when they reconsidered the Gender Recognition Act and Equality Act made me feel for a minute that they were being sensible and pragmatic. A statement said that women’s safe spaces were adequately covered by the provisions of the Equality Act. Indeed that is true.
So why do they quietly slip out one month and five days after they announced that the government would not be reforming the Gender Recognition Act do they now announce that the women and equalities committee has launched a new enquiry into trans equality. It is couched in positive terms.
“The women and equalities committee will examine these proposals, gathering evidence on whether the government’s proposed changes are the right ones and whether they go far enough.
“This inquiry will explore what changes, if any, should be made to the existing legislation, in order for current legislation to improve trans equality.
T is only five years since the women and equalities committee last carried out an inquiry into trans equality in 2015, the results of which recommended reforming the GRA. In 2018, there was a huge public consultation on potential reforms that more than 100,000 people responded to.
It then took the government two long years to publish the results, which showed that the public overwhelmingly supported removing the requirement that trans people have a diagnosis of gender dysphoria before being able to get legal recognition of their gender, something the Government decided not to adopt.
What troubles me is the further consideration about the provision of safe spaces for women and the specific directive that local councils and public bodies must ensure that sufficient safe single sex spaces must be made available for the protection of women as well as the suitable provision of toilets for other people. Just the use of the word “safe” feels to me as if it in re-igniting the JK Rowling safe space argument. That this is being done in the middle of the pandemic, another lockdown starting shortly just seems somehow duplicitous Maybe I am cynical….maybe they hope to make changes underneath the radar when nobody is looking, with Brexit round the corner probably happening under an extended lockdown when any changes they hope will go unnoticed. It just seems never ending…….