Make the Equality Act clear: easy-read version

This is the seventh in a series of blog posts in the run up to the debate on 12th June about clarifying the Equality Act. 

When governments consult on major legal changes or produce guidance on laws, they often produce easy-read versions. These use simple words and pictures to explain the law. For example:

The way the Equality Act defines sex, and the rules around single-sex services, should be clear and simple. 

For example,  everyone should be able to understand what this sign means: 

Icon of woman and word 'Female'

The government’s easy-read pictures show why there is a problem with the Gender Recognition Act and the Equality Act.

This is what the government said in its consultation in 2018:

Gender means either of the 2 sexes – male and female
We are looking at the Gender Recognition Act 2004.
This is the law which lets you change your gender from the one you were born with.
This is called a Gender Recognition Certificate. 
The certificate means that you are now officially recognised as your new gender.

These pictures make no sense because everyone can tell what sex the people are in them. Having a certificate cannot really change whether someone is male or female.

Man and woman with arrows swapping them round; woman holding certificate and clenching her fist

Make the Equality Act clear: easy-read version

This is the easy-read version of how we think the Equality Act should be made clear:

These people are female.
They are women.
Women have the kind of body that can get pregnant. They can become mothers.
These peiople are male. 
They are men.
Men have the kind of body that can get a woman pregnant. They can become fathers.
The law protects everyone from being treated unfairly because of their sex.
These people identify as transgender.
They think of themselves as the opposite sex.
The law protects them from being treated unfairly for being transgender.
But this does not mean their sex has changed.
They shouldn’t lose their job or be denied services such as education, housing, finance, transport, or entertainment.
Some people who are transgender get a gender-recognition certificate.
This means that a doctor has said they have “gender dysphoria”.
They must also show they have taken steps such as changing their name.
The certificate changes their sex in law for the purpose of marriage
and for pensions.
But having a certificate cannot change what other people see and think.
You can usually tell what sex people are easily.
The law must still protect everyone from being treated unfairly because of their sex.
Even if they have a gender-recognition certificate.
When something is provided for one sex only, the rules can be applied to everyone, based on the sex they really are. 
Even if they have a certificate.

Read the other posts in this series.