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UK justice minister Michael Gove accused of trying to sabotage trans inquiry

After just one week of evidence at parliamentary inquiry, Ministry of Justice sent letter refusing to change the law

UK justice minister Michael Gove accused of trying to sabotage trans inquiry
Policy Exchange
Secretary of State for Justice: Michael Gove MP.

Trans activists have accused Britain’s Secretary of State for Justice, Michael Gove of trying to sabotage the first ever UK Parliamentary enquiry into transgender issues.

His Ministry of Justice issued an official statement saying it wouldn’t update legislation to allow trans people to just choose their gender for themselves, without having to get approval from ‘experts’.

And it refused to recognize non-binary people, who don’t identify as fully male or female.

The Ministry of Justice’s intervention came after just one week of evidence at the Women and Equalities Select Committee’s parliamentary inquiry on trans issues.

Today a number of trans activists have signed an open letter to Maria Miller, MP, chair of that inquiry.

The letter accuses Gove and his department of ‘a deliberate attempt to sabotage [the] inquiry’.

It was co-ordinated by Jane Fae, a gender activist and GSN contributor.

She said: ‘It is beyond belief the minister would respond in such dismissive terms at the very start of a parliamentary inquiry.

‘There was no need to make any statement on these issues until January 2016 and given that an independent inquiry is underway, the trans community would perfectly understand such a delay.

‘What they will not understand is why this response now. This government has made much of policy being led by evidence. Whereas in this instance, it seems clear that it is prejudice that is leading, and evidence is nowhere to be seen.’

Non-binary people had been told by the ministry they didn’t suffer any ‘detriment’ by not being recognized in law.

Jennie Kermode, who chairs the Trans Media Watch charity, said: ‘The Ministry of Justice’s pronouncements on non-binary people, in particular, contradict the existing evidence, and they do not appear to have consulted any researcher in the field.’

The parliamentary committee is expected to take weeks gathering and reviewing evidence from several hundred people, including experts and individuals personally affected by gender identity issues.

It is not clear if Gove personally signed-off on his ministry’s letter. But the activists argue that such a statement would likely have required ministerial sign-off and, as Secretary of State, ‘the buck stops with him’.

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