Let trans people self-identify their gender, Corbyn urges May

Labour leader says party would support any attempt to change law that would remove need for medical checks

Jeremy Corbyn has challenged Theresa May to allow people to self-identify as transgender without having to go through medical checks, pledging that Labour would support any government attempt to change the law.

Speaking at a reception on Tuesday night, hosted by Pink News to mark the 50th anniversary of the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality in England and Wales, the Labour leader said the struggle goes on for LGBT rights but there must be a particular effort to advance trans rights.

The prime minister’s deal with the socially conservative DUP means she could struggle to push through reforms to the Gender Recognition Act without opposition backing.

But Corbyn said May would have his support if she scrapped the requirement for trans people to undergo medical tests, and instead allowed them to self-identify their gender, saying legislation could be passed with Labour backing if the Tories and DUP had a free vote.

“Discrimination has gone on too long. The Gender Recognition Act does not allow trans people to self-identify their gender and forces them to undergo invasive medical tests. This is wrong,” he said.

“Labour recognised this in our manifesto, pledging to update the act. Theresa May told Pink News that ‘changes need to be made’ but failed to include anything on this in the Conservative manifesto.

“So, I say to her today, Labour will help you keep your promise. Bring forward a bill to update the act and improve trans rights and Labour will back you. You can give your MPs and the DUP a free vote and Labour will make it law.”

May indicated before the election that the government was reviewing the law but the change has long been demanded by equal rights campaigners.

Corbyn made the speech at Speaker’s House in London during a reception held by John Bercow, the Speaker of the Commons, and Norman Fowler, the Lord Speaker.

He also criticised Donald Trump’s “disturbing” approach to LGBT rights, and condemned the violence against gay men in Chechnya.

Bercow told the gathering it was time for the Church of England to allow churches to perform gay marriage ceremonies.

“There’s always a balance to be struck – we don’t want to ‎behave as though it’s all over, that everything has been done ... Because that isn’t true I still feel that we can only really have equal marriage when you can bloody well get married in a church if you want to do so,” he said.

Justine Greening, the education secretary, who last year became the first female cabinet minister to reveal she was in a same-sex relationship, did not mention changing the gender recognition law in her speech but pledged to fight for progress in LGBT rights. She said there were still “too many pockets of communities in the country for whom LGBT rights are a mistake and think things have gone too far.”

Greening said the government and parliament has to “keep on pushing for progress” to make sure there are advances in LGBT rights but that there was a long way to go.

• This article was amended on 19 July 2017 to include the information that the reception was hosted by Pink News.

Contributor

Rowena Mason

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
UK government drops gender self-identification plan for trans people
Medical diagnosis will still be required in England and Wales after consultation on 2004 Gender Recognition Act

Simon Murphy and Libby Brooks

22, Sep, 2020 @1:03 PM

Article image
Nicola Sturgeon pledges gender recognition law reform for trans people
SNP leader’s vow includes pledge to ensure Scotland legislates for non-binary gender recognition if party wins Holyrood election

Libby Brooks Scotland correspondent

01, Apr, 2016 @12:54 PM

Article image
Labour suspends activist challenging gender self-identification policy
David Lewis stood for women’s officer role claiming that he was ‘a woman on Wednesdays’

Jessica Elgot Political correspondent

23, May, 2018 @9:07 AM

Article image
Jeremy Corbyn calls for all-female shortlists to create equal Commons
Placing women’s issues at the heart of his leadership campaign, leader also commits to regular gender audit of Labour policies

Caroline Davies

31, Aug, 2016 @7:03 PM

Article image
Theresa May plans to let people change gender without medical checks
Speaking at Pink News awards dinner, prime minister reiterates her commitment to improving trans rights

Rowena Mason

18, Oct, 2017 @8:07 PM

Article image
Stonewall is at centre of a toxic debate on trans rights and gender identity
Some have called the LGBT rights charity extremist, others say it’s on the right side of history

Haroon Siddique

05, Jun, 2021 @7:00 AM

Article image
Women's Equality party runs consultation on self-identification for trans people
Party hopes to ‘shift the dial’ on fraught debate ahead of decision on Gender Recognition Act

Libby Brooks

17, Sep, 2020 @3:32 PM

Article image
Labour mayors urge government to speed up gender law changes
Khan and Burnham among those saying process for trans people to self-ID should be easier

Helen Pidd and Maya Wolfe-Robinson

18, Jul, 2019 @1:56 PM

Article image
Trans model Munroe Bergdorf to advise Labour on LGBT issues
Conservatives say controversial comments on race made last year make her unsuitable for the post

Anushka Asthana Political editor

27, Feb, 2018 @4:40 PM

Article image
Rosie Duffield calls for talks with Keir Starmer on Labour’s trans rights stance
Canterbury MP, who will not attend party conference, says meeting with leader could help find way forward

Peter Walker Political correspondent

20, Sep, 2021 @10:05 AM