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Stonewall calls for UN to review UK equalities watchdog’s status in wake of transphobia claims

It's being supported by the Good law Project and 20 other LGBTQ and trans focused organisations.

By Alastair James

Words: Alastair James; pictures: Pexels

The LGBTQ charity Stonewall has submitted evidence to the United Nations which it says reveals how the UK’s equalities watchdog is no longer “fit for purpose” and is calling for a review of the watchdog’s status as a human rights institution. 

Supported by The Good law Project and 20 other LGBTQ and trans organisations, the actions come after a number of reports on the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), which indicates a change of stance on trans rights and issues.

The EHRC, which was set up in 2007 to promote and uphold equality and human rights laws in the UK, has also recently suggested pausing legislation in Scotland on reforming the Gender Recognition Act and the can on ‘conversion’ therapy in the UK, both of which caused outrage in the LGBTQ community. 

“All of us need our human rights to be upheld and protected”

Explaining the reason for their submission today (Friday 11 January) Stonewall wrote on Twitter: “The @EHRC is no longer acting as a credible, independent human rights institution. They are pushing an anti-trans agenda over international human rights law.”

They go on to say: “EHRC’s recent change in its stance on trans issues is in stark contrast to international human rights standards. It seeks to strip trans people of legal protections and poses a grave threat to the abilities for trans people to participate in daily life with dignity and respect.”

Stonewall is also supporting calls for a review into the EHRC’s ‘A’ status as a National Human Rights Institution. It adds their 19-page submission “highlights the numerous ways we believe show the @EHRC is now a compromised, politicised organisation.”

It closes by saying: “All of us need our human rights to be upheld and protected – this is a fundamental value that rises above the politics of the day. We call on the UK Government to show leadership by ensuring we have a revived and truly independent @EHRC that is fit for purpose.”

The BBC reports that the EHRC has said its critics are “aiming at the wrong target”.

Following criticism that the EHRC is too closely aligned with the government, the UK Government’s Equalities Hub has also told Attitude that it is “fully committed to advancing LGBT rights”. The EHRC is an independent body, but its senior executives are government-appointed. 

Vice World News has recently reported that staff are leaving the EHRC over its stance on trans rights. Vice has also reported on leaks showing that the EHRC has been meeting with anti-trans groups, which the EHRC defended saying that “On trans rights issues, we operate an open-door policy and will listen to and engage with stakeholders with a wide range of differing and opposing views.

Attitude has approached the EHRC for comment. People can support Stonewall here.

The Attitude February issue is out now. Get your copy here