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UK Court of Appeal rules people cannot have gender-neutral passports

Campaigner Christie Elan-Cane will take the case to the Supreme Court

2020-03-10

Words: Steve Brown

The Court of Appeal has ruled that people cannot have gender-neutral passports in the UK.

Campaigner Christie Elan-Cane has been calling for the UK Government to introduce passports with ‘X’ instead of gender options.

Elan-Cane believes that the UK’s passport application process – which requires people to specify their gender – is ‘inherently discriminatory’.

During a hearing in December, three senior judges were told that the current policy on gender-neutral passports is ‘unlawful’ and breaches human rights laws.

At the time, Kate Gallafent QC, for Elan-Crane, told judges: “This is an important case in the anxious context of the proper understanding and respect for the intimate, human rights of the affected class – persons whose gender identity is neither, or neither exclusively, male nor female.

“There is little which is more fundamental and deeply personal than an individual’s gender identity.”

After the judicial review action was dismissed by the High Court in June 2018, Elan-Cane took the case to the Court of Appeal.

According to the Evening Standard, the appeal – which was contested by the Home Office – focuses on the lawfulness of the current policy administered by Her Majesty’s Passport Office, a part of the Home Office.

The appeal argued that the current policy breaches rights to respect private life and the right not to be discriminated against on the basis of gender or sex, under the European Convention on Human Rights.

Now, leading judges have delivered their ruling in the latest round of the ongoing legal battle and ruled gender-neutral passports will not be available in the UK.

Elan-Cane took to Twitter to reveal the news and said the case will be taken to the Supreme Court.

Elan-Cane wrote: “'X' PASSPORTS I regret to inform that the Appeal Court has ruled in the UK government's favour in a judgment handed down this morning.

“We intend to seek permission for the case to be heard at the Supreme Court.”