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Welsh government lampoons Tories and offers unwavering support to trans people ahead of crucial rights announcement

Josh Milton July 9, 2020
Welsh government offers unwavering support to the trans community

The head of the parade passes Cardiff Castle during the Pride Cymru parade. (Mark Hawkins/Composed Images / Barcroft Media via Getty Images)

The Welsh government delivered a brutal broadside against UK lawmakers by emphatically stating solidarity with the trans community at a time when Boris Johnson reportedly preparing to roll rights backwards.

Anglo-Welsh divisions have already been seeded as the Welsh government – which has power over issues like health, education and public administration – has taken a more cautious approach to coronavirus controls than England has.

But divisions deepened further when Johnson, after a gruelling two years of stalling the results of a public forum to decide the future of trans rights, reportedly opted to not listen to the public at all and allegedly ignore and ditch considerations for a self-identifying (self-ID) system altogether.

According to a leak, UK government ministers will abandon crucial reforms to the 2004 Gender Recognition Act and instead enforce a series of pad-locked policies to better “protect” single-sex spaces.

This is despite 70 per cent of those queried in a public consultation backing self-ID. Indeed, even after years of erosive media coverage, a YouGov poll on behalf of PinkNews published Thursday found that a thumping 57 per cent of women agreed that trans people should be able to self-identify as their chosen gender.

In a cabinet statement from ministers Jeremy Miles and Jane Hutt on Thursday (July 9), the pair lampooned the UK government for “failing in its commitment to formally respond to the Gender Recognition Act consultation”.

Welsh government offers emphatic support to trans people.

Miles and Hutt skewered Liz Truss, who in spearheading the planned reforms, plunged countless trans folk into “distress and anxiety”, they said, over her announced changes.

The minister for women and equalities earlier this year announced changes to the access trans youth have to healthcare which has been protested by tens of thousands of people, provoked concern from the official LGBT+ group of every UK political party and caused alarm among parents of trans youth.

“The Welsh government is committed to advancing equality for all and is clear this means taking account of intersecting forms of discrimination, disadvantage and striving to achieve equality of outcome for everyone,” the statement said.

Jeremy Miles, Brexit Minister in the National Assembly for Wales. (Claire Doherty/In Pictures via Getty Images)

“We have pressed for a publication date and have been disappointed to see the leaks of selected sections of the report without proper communication by the UK government to Welsh government ministers.

“This has caused significant distress and anxiety among trans people and wider LGBT+ communities here in Wales and the UK. We believe trans women are women, trans men are men and non-binary identities are valid.

“We restate our support for trans people’s right to self-identification.”

The Labour Party minister for European transition and the deputy minister of the Llywodraeth Cymru stressed that “frustrations” have been aired to the government: “We have pressed for clarity in relation to references to single-sex spaces, the methodology of ‘checks and balances’ and sought clear commitment that changes to the 2010 Equality Act will not be made,” they said.

Miles and Hutt added that Welsh government ministers will publish its review of the GRA and, “to the full extent” of the authority’s powers, “ensure trans rights in Wales are protected.”

Jane Hutt (L) and former Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn. (Anthony Devlin/Anthony Devlin/Getty Images)

This week, they said, Stonewall Cymru, the Welsh wing of the LGBT+ charity, chaired a meeting with lawmakers and local queer leaders who expressed frustration at the Conservative Party’s bungled handling of the GRA reforms.

“In particular, they were dismayed at the increasing likelihood of a regression in their human rights as trans people,” the statement said.

“We share their concerns.”

Activists welcome government support: ‘As a starting point, this is incredibly positive.’

Attending the meeting were members of the Wales Equality Alliance, a network of LGBT-supportive organisations and businesses. A spokesperson told PinkNews that members were relieved to receive the backing of the Welsh government at a time when lawmakers are seemingly rewiring the law against them.

“This is just the start of our engagement, as there is plenty more to do before trans people can participate fully in a society that values them, but as a starting point this is incredibly positive,” they said.

Overall, trans community leaders, grassroots groups and charities across the nations revelled in the brief respite the Welsh government’s support gives them.

The statement from Welsh lawmakers captured the increasingly fractured image of the UK that has only been intensified by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The UK government has vastly left devolved nations to steer their own region-specific responses to the global healthcare crisis. Yet, in doing so, the union has been cracked into a patchwork of conflicting policies, all the while England’s caseload has swelled far beyond Wales and Scotland.

English lawmakers, overall, were comparatively more sluggish in enforcing a lockdown and have been easier in relaxing it. Public support for independence referendums steadily creeping up in Scotland and Wales, especially as a bulldozed Brexit looms ahead.

More: Boris Johnson, Gender Reformation Act, gra, Trans, trans rights, UK, Wales

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