UK Conservatives say they will define sex as biological to end ‘confusion’

By Thomson Reuters Jun 3, 2024 | 7:18 AM

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s Conservatives will clearly define sex as biological in the Equality Act if they win an election on July 4 to end an “ambiguity” that is putting women and girls’ safety at risk, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said.

Before the vote, the Conservatives are pressing issues aimed at securing its core vote such as policies protecting pensioners, tackling illegal immigration and introducing mandatory national service for 18-year-olds.

“The safety of women and girls is too important to allow the current confusion around definitions of sex and gender to persist,” the party said in a statement.

“The Conservatives believe that making this change in law will enhance protections in a way that respects the privacy and dignity of everyone in society.”

The Conservatives, who are around 20 percentage points behind the opposition Labour Party in the polls, said the confusion had left single-sex service providers vulnerable to challenge and legal action.

Labour’s defence policy chief John Healey said on Monday the law did not need to be changed and what was needed was clearer guidance for service providers.

The 2010 Equality Act already allows service providers to operate single-sex and separate sex services such as toilets, domestic abuse refuges and changing rooms where they have a good reason to do so and it is proportionate.

Where justified, they may also be able to exclude transgender people with Gender Recognition Certificates (GRC), the government has previously said. A GRC changes a transgender person’s sex for most legal purposes.

The Conservatives said the change to the law would not remove existing protections against discrimination on the basis of gender reassignment.

The sex of those with a GRC would still align with their acquired gender in law outside the Equality Act, for example marriage law, as is the status quo, they said.

(Reporting by Paul Sandle; editing by Elizabeth Piper and Mark Heinrich)