Dawn Butler accuses Tory minister of ‘dodging’ questions as government drags its feet on Gender Recognition Act reforms
Labour’s Dawn Butler has accused minister for women Victoria Atkins of “dodging questions” as she pressured her to give an update on the 2018 consultation on the Gender Recognition Act.
It’s hoped that a reform of the 2004 Gender Recognition Act will uphold and improve rights for trans and non-binary people in the UK by allowing them to self-identify their own gender on legal documentation, such as birth certificates. More than 100,000 people responded to the consultation, which closed in October 2018.
When Atkins was serving as parliamentary under-secretary of state, she told PinkNews that the government hoped to publish a response in spring 2019, but it has been continually delayed ever since.
Speaking at the despatch box for the first time this year, Butler urged Atkins to finally take action on the much-needed reforms.
“Now that the general election is over, there seems to be no need to prolong the decision making any further,” she said. “The minister should now have had enough time to study carefully and consider the government’s response to the Gender Recognition Act consultation.
“I wonder if she’d now like to take the opportunity to update the house.”
Atkins replied: “Well, I’m grateful to the honourable lady, I mean she knows herself how complex this area is.
“We are working very carefully and methodically through the results of the consultation in relation to the Gender Recognition Act, we are clear that we want to protect trans adults’ rights and also protect single-sex spaces for women, and we don’t want to rush into this, we want to get this right.”
Dawn Butler appeared stony-faced at the minister’s refusal to commit to any kind of action, later tweeting: “She certainly dodged my question this morning, it really isn’t good enough.”
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Speaking to PinkNews, she continued her criticism of the Tories’ unexplained moratorium on the reforms. “The minister has now had ample time, in her own words, for ‘consideration and to study it closely’,” she said.
“In 2017 there was a plan to consult. In November 2018 they said ‘results published spring 2019’. We are now in 2020.
“She needs to now confirm her readiness to put an end to the misery for the LGBT+ community and simply get the GRA done!”
Butler previously condemned the handling of the issue as “a f**king disgrace,” noting that the continued stalling left a void that has been filled with “hate, misconceptions [and] misrepresentation” about trans people.