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Boris Johnson pulled out of scrapping Gender Recognition Act reform at the last minute on the ‘advice of Carrie’, claim Tory MPs

Vic Parsons August 2, 2020
Boris Johnson pulled out of ditching GRA reform 'on advice of Carrie'

Prime minister Boris Johnson allegedly pulled out of scrapping GRA reform on the advice of his fiancée, Carrie Symonds. (ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP via Getty Images)

At the last minute, Boris Johnson pulled out of abandoning Gender Recognition Act reform “on the advice” of his fiancée Carrie Symonds, Tory MPs claim.

The announcement that Johnson would “scrap” plans to reform the Gender Recognition Act (GRA), which were initiated by Theresa May’s government in 2017, was expected in June after a Sunday Times article reported he was abandoning the reforms.

But Johnson didn’t make the announcement that GRA reform was being dropped.

In a Mail on Sunday article today, Tory MPs claim that Johnson pulled out of making the announcement that he was dropping GRA reform because of the influence of his fiancée, Carrie Symonds.

A senior source told the Mail on Sunday: “Many detect the hand of Carrie in this, but for whatever reason, Boris does not appear to have an appetite for this fight at the moment. He’s got cold feet.”

Instead, Johnson and his minister for women and equalities, Liz Truss, have confirmed they will publish the government’s GRA reform plans “over the summer“.

The anticipated dropping of GRA reform – which would make an administrative process used by a small number of people simpler and less bureaucratic – was fiercely protested by trans allies, including 8,000 cis women who wrote to Truss condemning her anti-trans plans.

GRA reform reportedly backed by 70 per cent of the public.

The Gender Recognition Act is a 2004 law that transgender men and women use to gain legal recognition of their gender.

A huge consultation in 2018, responded to by over 100,000 people, reportedly found that 70 per cent of respondents backed Theresa May’s proposals to “streamline and de-medicalise” the process of legal gender recognition for trans men and women in the UK.

But the government has repeatedly delayed publishing the full results of the public consultation and its proposals for GRA reform off the back of it, amid increasingly toxic public debate about trans lives.

Johnson was “expected to declare that the Government was abandoning moves to allow transgender people to change their birth certificates without a medical diagnosis”, the Mail reports.

Pulling out of this announcement was “a blow to Cabinet Minister Liz Truss, who has been fighting a ‘culture war’ within Whitehall to stop the rules being relaxed”, the Mail said.

“MPs who supported Ms Truss’s drive have claimed privately that the Prime Minister backed away from a confrontation with trans activists on the advice of Ms Symonds,” the Mail added.

Trans-rights activists had warned that abandoning plans to reform the GRA, coupled with a potential rollback of existing trans rights under the Equality Act 2010, would be a “new Section 28“.

Section 28 was a homophobic law brought in by Margaret Thatcher in 1988 that banned the “promotion of homosexuality” in British schools.

Fears have grown in recent months that the Tories could introduce similar discriminatory plans to erase the existence of transgender people, with Labour’s Nadia Whittome condemning Truss’ “quibbling” over GRA reform for “fanning the flames of populist hate” against trans and non-binary people.

A Downing Street source “categorically denied” the claims in the Mail, saying: “This story is untrue. Ms Symonds has not discussed this issue with the Prime Minister.”

More: Boris Johnson, carrie symonds, gender recognition act, GRA Reform, liz truss, mail on sunday, Nadia Whittome, trans rights

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