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Tories to update transgender laws following calls from Corbyn

Days after Jeremy Corbyn called for a review of the Gender Recognition Act, the government has announced a review of the Gender Recognition Act.

Speaking at the PinkNews Summer Parliamentary reception earlier this week, the Labour Party leader called for an overhaul of the 2004 Gender Recognition Act that allows transgender people to change their legal gender.

The current law requires trans people to pass a number of bureaucratic hurdles, wait two years and to submit to medical tests in order to change their legal gender, but Mr Corbyn backed trans campaigners in calling for a ‘self-deceleration’ system which would eliminate many of the obstacles.

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Addressing the Prime Minister, Mr Corbyn told PinkNews: “We must advance trans rights, and discrimination has gone on too long. Bring forward a Bill to update the Act and improve trans rights and Labour will back you.”

The Labour leader also pledged to support the Conservatives in a vote on the Act in his speech.

It comes after Theresa May said that they would plan to announce reviews earlier this week in an op-ed for PinkNews.

“We must tackle transphobic bullying and make sure that transgender rights are supported,” the Prime Minister wrote.

Today, the government has announced plans to review gender recognition rules.

Equalities Minister Justine Greening confirmed that proposals to streamline and de-medicalise the process for changing gender will be part of a “broad consultation of the legal system that underpins gender transition, the Gender Recognition Act”.

Justine Greening also announced the launch of a national survey that will ask the 1.5 million LGBT people in the UK to share their views on public services to help inform Government policy.

The consultation on the Gender Recognition Act, to be published in the Autumn, will look to improve the recognition process and reduce the stigma faced by the trans community.

Proposals will include removing the need for a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria before being able to apply for gender recognition. The current need to be assessed and diagnosed by clinicians is seen as an intrusive requirement by the trans community.

Options will also be laid out to reduce the length and intrusiveness of the gender recognition system.

A self-declaration system is already in operation in the Republic of Ireland.

The government says it will try to “relieve the bureaucratic and medical burdens for those who choose to change their gender”.

Minister for Women and Equalities Justine Greening said: “This government is committed to building an inclusive society that works for everyone, no matter what their gender or sexuality and today we’re taking the next step forward.

“We will build on the significant progress we have made over the past 50 years, tackling some of the historic prejudices that still persist in our laws and giving LGBT people a real say on the issues affecting them.”

Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn told PinkNews: “I am delighted that the Government has listened to the demands of LGBT activists and is following Labour’s manifesto commitment. “

Mr Corbyn told PinkNews: “We will vote for any law that improves the rights of trans people.”

Suzanna Hopwood, a member of the Stonewall Trans Advisory Group, said:

“I am really pleased that the Government is making good on its commitment to review the Gender Recognition Act. Reform is one of the key priorities in our vision for removing the huge inequalities that trans people face in the UK. The current system is demeaning and broken.

“It’s vital that this reform removes the requirements for medical evidence and an intrusive interview panel, and finally allows all trans people to have their gender legally recognised through a simple administrative process. That’s what we’ll be calling for during this consultation, and I’m looking forward to seeing the law change soon after.”

Ruth Hunt, Chief Executive of Stonewall said: “We’re pleased the Government recognises there is still more to be done to ensure all lesbian, gay, bi and trans people are accepted without exception, and welcome the announcement of new measures to tackle some of the remaining inequalities.

“The consultation on reforming the Gender Recognition Act is hugely encouraging.

“The 2004 Act was ground-breaking in giving trans people a way to have their gender legally recognised, but the process is in dire need of reform.

“We need a simple process which isn’t medicalised, intrusive or demeaning. We would urge the Government to ensure that all trans communities are consulted and to act quickly on their concerns.”

The consultation was announced as part of a slate of changes today that also include a relaxation on rules banning blood donation by men who have sex with men.

The government’s LGBT survey, launched today, will allow the Government to understand the experiences of LGBT individuals across the UK.

This will help identify ways to improve public services for LGBT users, including in health and education, and to understand how individuals might face discrimination.

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