Where sex matters | Legal system

Legal system

The argument for “No Debate” does not work in court: judges should listen to evidence and reasoned argument.

Sex matters in our laws, and evolving case law has sought to clarify questions about sex and gender identity in practice. Much of the case law to date has been driven by claims brought by those seeking to replace sex with gender, but recently there has been a growth in cases using the law to clarify where sex matters.

The law can help us answer questions about interactions and conflicts between trans rights and women’s rights, and about the right to discuss these subjects without fear of bullying, criminal prosecution or loss of livelihood. Where the laws are not working, it is sensible to seek to reform them. But this depends on both lawmakers and also judges making decisions on the basis of the law as it is, not as campaigners or pressure groups would like it to be.

What is the problem?

‘Stonewall law’

Stonewall and other organisations campaigning on related issues (GIRES, the Trans Equality Legal Initiative (TELI), Gendered Intelligence, Mermaids, to name a few) have for many years now been doing two things in parallel:

  1. Campaigning to change the law, so that the rights of trans people are extended at the expense of others, chiefly women.
  2. Lobbying that asserts – through ‘guidance’ documents, training and so on – that the law is in various respects already as they would like it to be.

Due to this it is now widely believed that trans people have an automatic right of access under the Equality Act 2010 to single-sex spaces and services hitherto provided for the use of the opposite sex. Not only is this widely believed among non-specialists: the myth has been repeated in official guidance from supposedly neutral bodies like Acas and the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

Training judges

Judges are subject to the same social pressures as the rest of us: career ambition, pressure to conform, and the desire to appear up-to-the-minute and “on the right side of history”.

And judges receive training.

Make a dubious, poorly evidenced or illogical claim as an advocate in court, and you can expect the judge to prod it, test it with pointed questions, hold it up to the light, and throw it out if it doesn’t stand up. But make the same dubious claim in the course of “training” for judges, or in an official document provided for their guidance, and there’s a real danger that it will bypass their critical faculties, and pass directly into the category of stuff they think they know.

Worse, judicial training seems to be secret. Freedom of Information requests for the content of whatever “trans awareness” training judges have received have so far been blocked.

We do know, though, from a document published on judiciary.gov.uk, that in 2018 employment judges were receiving training from an organisation called Gendered Intelligence. Gendered Intelligence is a charity that promotes a highly contentious set of beliefs about gender and gender identity, and is actively campaigning for gender self-identification to replace sex.


Where do judges come from?

The overwhelming majority of judges are former barristers or solicitors; a few are former academic lawyers, though all of course have been educated at universities, disproportionately Oxford and Cambridge. Stonewall lists 89 universities (including both Oxford and Cambridge) among its “Diversity Champions”, as well as 80 of the larger law firms. That means that many of the environments in which future judges are being educated and gaining their early-career experiences are now steeped in Stonewall law.

The Equal Treatment Bench Book

This is a guidance document provided to judges by the Judicial College, which judges are encouraged to take into account wherever it is applicable. Its stated aim is to help judges ensure that they achieve “equality before the law”.

Its chapter on “transgender people” departs from the Equality Act, defines transgender people as “people who cross the conventional boundaries of gender”, and then gives an inaccurate paraphrase of the meaning of “transsexual” in the Equality Act.

It then states that “It is important to respect a person’s gender identity by using appropriate terms of address, names and pronouns” and “Everyone is entitled to respect for their gender identity…”

It is not quite clear whether the authors of the ETBB are telling judges that these are legal entitlements (they are not), or just that it would be nice if they acted as if they were. Either way, they are contentious claims. It is far from self-evident that a male rapist or paedophile is entitled to respect for his gender identity if, at some point after committing his offences, he announces that he now identifies as female. But such expectations have become prevalent in the legal system to the extent that the victim of an assault has been reprimanded (and refused compensation) by a judge for referring to her assailant – an obvious male – with the male pronoun “he”.

Updates

  • The more people understand the real-world impact of pretending people can change sex, the less they like it

    Another fall in public support for changing sex on birth certificates

    The latest results from the annual British Social Attitudes survey show a further fall in support for the law that allows people to change the sex recorded on their birth certificate. It seems that the more this is talked about, the less people like it. Each year the British...

    12th June 2024

  • I’ve never come across any other topic where to ask to talk about it and ask to find solutions that work for everybody is seen as hateful.

    This damning judgment should be a wake-up call for the women’s sector

    Adams v Edinburgh Rape Crisis Centre This week, an employment tribunal ruled that caseworker Roz Adams was subjected to unlawful discrimination and constructive dismissal by Edinburgh Rape Crisis Centre (ERCC).  The tribunal agreed with Adams’ description of what she had suffered as a “heresy hunt” at the hands of...

    22nd May 2024

  • Send bad guidance on single-sex services to the government

    The government wants examples of bad guidance on single-sex services

    Send in the evidence!  The government has issued a call for the public to input evidence of bad policies and guidance on single-sex services. UPDATE: Read Sex Matters’ guidance on how to submit evidence The Equality Act allows for clear single-sex services – including everyday facilities like toilets, showers ...

    2nd May 2024

  • Academics who reject trans ideology face unlawful discrimination

    Legal opinion says promotion policy discriminates on basis of gender-critical beliefs

    Earlier this year Sex Matters was approached by Dr John Armstrong, a reader in mathematics at King’s College London (KCL). Dr Armstrong was applying for promotion, but was concerned that the “EDI” (equality, diversity and inclusion) section of the application, which required applicants to demonstrate their commitment to ideas...

    20th April 2024

  • I trust that all women – irrespective of profile or financial means – will be treated equally under the law.

    “Misgendering” and the Scottish Hate Crime Act

    On 1st April, the Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Act came into force. The law has generated headlines across the world, mainly due to concerns about its potential impact on freedom of speech; in particular, gender-critical speech. One of the most controversial aspects is the extension of so-called...

    5th April 2024

  • Will you ask your MP to support a bill to protect women and children?

    This Friday a private member’s bill in the House of Commons presents MPs with a chance to discuss changing the law to clarify the meaning of “sex” in the Equality Act, stop the social transitioning of children in schools and ban healthcare providers from prescribing puberty blockers and cross-sex...

    11th March 2024

  • “The BBC is obliged by its charter to be accurate and without bias” (1)

    Bias at the BBC

    What’s the issue? The BBC’s director of complaints has ruled that the presenter Justin Webb broke the BBC’s rules on impartiality when he commented, in a discussion about a women’s chess tournament on Radio 4’s Today programme, that “trans women” are male. This is shocking behaviour from the BBC:...

    1st March 2024

  • Lords debate conversion therapy

    On Friday 9th February 2024 Baroness Burt’s Private Member’s Bill proposing a ban on “conversion therapy” was debated in the House of Lords. Twenty-nine peers spoke against it and fifteen in favour. This was the first time some important arguments had been heard in Parliament. While those in favour...

    21st February 2024

  • Sex and the police: confusion over the law and state-sanctioned sexual assault

    Update on the review into activism and impartiality in policing HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) has today published a letter with interim findings from his review of the politicisation of the police, which was started in September 2023 at the request of the Home...

    10th January 2024

  • Gender-critical civil society submits report to GREVIO on sex and the law 

    Sex Matters, Fair Play For Women and Transgender Trend, together with LGB Alliance, the Women’s Rights Network, For Women Scotland and Merched Cymru, have submitted a report on the UK’s implementation of the Istanbul Convention.  The Istanbul Convention is about violence against women The “Istanbul Convention” is the Council of...

    31st December 2023

  • Trans-identifying men are bullying their way into women’s spaces by threatening litigation.

    Resisting violations of women-only spaces

    The chair of Sex Matters’ board, barrister Naomi Cunningham, was asked to speak at a conference in Edinburgh on Tuesday 5th December to celebrate the first anniversary of the opening of Beira’s Place. Beira’s Place, based in Edinburgh but covering the whole Lothian region, is a trauma-informed service for...

    7th December 2023

  • Let’s talk about modern conversion therapy

    No conversion therapy in the King’s speech

    Sex Matters welcomes the news that the government has not committed to bringing forward a bill to ban “conversion therapy” in the King’s speech today.  We think that any bill which criminalises forms of talking in relation to gender identity would: What next? We note that those who have...

    7th November 2023

  • "We are all fudging it with our fingers crossed that nothing bad happens."

    Sex matters in the hospitality industry

    If you provide toilets to the public or to employees, take ten minutes to respond to the government’s consultation on its new building regulations for toilets before 8th October. Sex Matters has published guidance.

    3rd October 2023

  • Sex Matters welcomes review of police politicisation

    The Home Secretary, Suella Braverman KC MP, has written to Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector, Andy Cooke, to raise concerns about police involvement in politically contested matters including “gender identity”, critical race theory and climate activism. She has ordered a review of how much political involvement by the police “may...

    2nd September 2023

  • A non-crime hate incident must not be recorded if the complaint is trivial, malicious or irrational.

    New guidance on trivial, malicious and irrational complaints

    The College of Policing has published new Authorised Professional Practice (APP) guidance on ‘Responding to hate’, which states that non-crime hate incidents (NCHIs) must not be recorded if the complaint is trivial, malicious or irrational. This follows on from the Court of Appeal’s judgment in the case of Harry Miller v...

    19th June 2023

  • Westminster Hall debate on the definition of sex in the Equality Act

    Westminster Hall debate on our petition to make the Equality Act clear

    Monday 12th June 2023 For the full official transcription of the debate, see Hansard. In the Chair, Judith Cummins began by reminding everyone that the petitions being debated indirectly related to two ongoing legal cases in the Scottish courts, but that reference to those would be allowed. Tonia Antoniazzi (Gower)...

    13th June 2023

  • 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...

    8th June 2023

  • Legislation

    Why the Equality Act should be sorted out with legislation 

    This is the fifth in a series of blog posts in the run up to the debate on 12th June about clarifying the Equality Act.  Stonewall argues that clarifying the Equality Act is unnecessary.  But the Equality Act is ambiguous, with legal experts unable to say with certainty whether...

    5th June 2023

  • Poll finds less than a third agree with Stonewall

    Less than a third of Brits say transwomen should be allowed in female-only spaces and sports

    Sex Matters has today released the findings from a representative national poll.  It finds that less than one in three Britons believe that transwomen – men who identify as women – should be allowed in women’s sports, changing rooms and toilets, or to provide ‘female-only’ intimate care. The lack...

    5th June 2023

  • How the public-sector equality duty was turned against women

    This is the fourth in a series of blog posts in the run up to the debate on 12th June about clarifying the Equality Act.  One of the most important places where it matters that sex clearly means sex in the Equality Act is the public-sector equality duty.  This...

    2nd June 2023

  • Sex in the Equality Act: the Westminster Hall debate A Sex Matters webinar

    Sex in the Equality Act: the Westminster Hall debate – webinar

    On 8th June 2023, Helen Joyce talked to academic Michael Foran and barrister Naomi Cunningham on about the upcoming Westminster Hall debate on clarifying the Equality Act. Among the questions discussed: Watch the recording For other Sex Matters webinars, see our YouTube channel.  Background To learn more about the...

    1st June 2023

  • Naomi Cunningham

    What does a GRC do?

    By Naomi Cunningham, Sex Matters’ Chair

    1st June 2023

  • "Gender"?

    Why “sex” and “gender” mean the same thing in law

    This is the second in a series of blog posts in the run up to the debate on 12th June about clarifying the Equality Act.  The language of sex and gender is a confusing quagmire.  The amendment we are proposing aims to clarify one particularly important thing: that the...

    31st May 2023

  • "Biological"?

    Why we don’t want “biological” added before “sex” in the law

    This is the first of a series of blog posts in the run up to the debate on 12th June about clarifying the Equality Act.  The word “sex” appears 268 times in the Equality Act 2010; “same sex” appears 48 times, “opposite sex” 28 times. Our petition says: Update...

    30th May 2023

  • We hope that GANHRI will speak up in solidarity with the EHRC, which is doing its job of protecting everyone’s human rights.

    We call on GANHRI to protect civic space 

    On 3rd May 2023 Stonewall and a group of organisations wrote to the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions (GANHRI) accusing Britain’s equalities watchdog, the Equality and Human Rights Commission, of being a “failed institution” which is “actively harming trans people”.  This is the third time Stonewall has...

    16th May 2023

  • Two weeks to go!

    Two weeks to go!

    Last October, Sex Matters launched a petition asking the government to amend the Equality Act 2010 in order to make clear what the protected characteristic of sex actually means. We think it should mean biological sex – male or female; the personal characteristic that is recorded on newborns’ birth...

    6th April 2023

  • Sex Matters in the Equality Act webinar: Thursday 30th March 2023 7.30pm to 8.30pm

    Sex Matters in the Equality Act webinar

    Helen Joyce talked with our chair, Naomi Cunningham, and our executive director, Maya Forstater, on Thursday 30th March 2023 about the Sex Matters proposal to amend the Equality Act to clarify that the protected characteristic of sex refers to biological sex, and not “sex as modified by a gender-recognition...

    20th March 2023

  • No male prisoners should be housed in women’s prisons.

    New MoJ transgender prisoner policy: Sex Matters’ response

    Sex Matters welcomes the Ministry of Justice’s announcement that men who identify as women will no longer be housed in women’s prisons if they have male genitalia or have committed sexual or violent crimes, with exceptions only to be made with ministerial authority.  We join Woman’s Place UK and...

    6th March 2023

  • No legal changes are needed to allow women-only sports

    Why are lawyers giving faulty advice about women-only sports?

    The governing body for the sport of athletics in the United Kingdom, UK Athletics, has called for the government to amend the Equality Act in order to guarantee the legality of female-only sports. While Sex Matters agrees with UKA that female-only sports are essential to provide safe and fair...

    3rd February 2023

  • Really, Charlie? over picture of Charlie Falconer gesticulating

    Charlie Falconer’s testimony

    The Women and Equalities Committee held an evidence session on 31st January on the Gender Recognition Reform Bill and the Equality Act. It featured Robin White, Barrister at Old Square Chambers; Naomi Cunningham, Barrister at Outer Temple Chambers (and Sex Matters’ Chair); Dr Michael Foran Senior Fellow, Policy Exchange...

    2nd February 2023

  • Rapid review of the section 35 order

    The UK government is right to challenge the GRR Bill

    Scottish Secretary Alister Jack has made an order under Section 35 of the Scotland Act 1998 to prevent the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill from receiving Royal Assent, and Sex Matters welcomes this.   We are particularly pleased that the government has recognised that changing both the size and...

    17th January 2023

  • Statement on the UK government’s decision to block the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill

    We are very pleased that the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for Scotland have decided to use their constitutional powers to stop the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill from going to royal assent.  As we wrote in our briefing on the Bill and its implications for the...

    16th January 2023

  • Petition at 70,000. We write to the Minister again.

    Our petition now has over 70,000 signatures, and those who have signed it will know that the Chair of the Petitions Committee has written to the Government calling for an initial response by Wednesday 18th January. We have also written to the Minister, Kemi Badenoch, asking for a response....

    16th January 2023

  • Stonewall is scaremongering: write to your MP

    Stonewall has been sending out alarmist emails to MPs which misrepresent the law.  On 9th January Kemi Badenoch, the Minister for Women and Equalities, announced that the government would be updating its list of approved overseas countries and territories for gender-recognition certificates. She explained: “There are now some countries and territories...

    13th January 2023

  • Why Scotland’s self-ID bill should be referred to the Supreme Court

    The UK Government has to decide what to do about Scotland’s Gender Recognition Bill by 19th January.  There has been quite a bit of legal commentary about using the power of Section 35 of the Scotland Act (read Michael Foran’s and Joshua Rozenberg’s pieces). Scottish Secretary Alister Jack has...

    6th January 2023

  • The question for the next four weeks

    The Gender Recognition Reform Bill looks set to be voted through by the Scottish Parliament. But before it becomes law it has to be given royal assent. 

    22nd December 2022

  • Sex Matters responds to CPS consultation

    Sex Matters has responded to the Crown Prosecution Service’s public consultation on its proposed revision to the section on “deception as to gender” in its guidance on prosecuting rape and serious sexual offences. In fact what the chapter should be called is “deception as to sex”. The case law...

    19th December 2022

  • UN expert calls for an “act of compliance”

    On Friday 16th December Victor Madrigal-Borloz, the UN Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, sent an extraordinary letter to the Scottish Government claiming that “legal recognition of gender identity” via self-identification is an “international human rights imperative”. He has now...

    18th December 2022

  • Clarify the Equality Act: sign the petition

    The Equality Act 2010 protects everyone’s rights and covers everything from schools to hospitals, pubs to sports, and everybody’s workplace. It includes protection against sex-discrimination, and allows single-sex services. But on 13th December a judge in Scotland pronounced that Equality Act does not recognise biological sex as a protected...

    16th December 2022

  • The word ‘biological’ does not appear in the definition [of female in the Equality Act]. It would have been entirely open to the drafters of the legislation to put the matter beyond doubt by including that adjective or descriptor, but they did not. Lady Haldane, FWS Judicial Review 2022

    Scottish court rules that sex is about paperwork, not biology

    A judgment handed down on 13th December in the Scottish court of session highlights the importance of a Sex Matters campaign to persuade the UK government to clarify the meaning of sex in the Equality Act 2010.  SIGN THE PETITION TODAY The ruling concerns the meaning of “woman” in...

    13th December 2022

  • Petition champion webinar

    Petition to make the Equality Act clear – campaign webinar

    Maya Forstater and Helen Joyce of Sex Matters were joined by campaigners @MsGiveZeroFox and @satiricole on 6th December 2022. Watch the recording For other Sex Matters webinars, see our YouTube channel.  About the webinar Since our petition was launched in early November, more than 38,000 people have signed, calling...

    29th November 2022

  • Compromises that destroy the human rights of one group are unfair. Solutions are needed that respect everyone’s rights.

    Trans rights are human rights!

    Sex Matters is a human-rights organisation. We believe that universal human rights form a powerful framework for thinking about how a diversity of freedoms can be respected, while protecting against harm and maintaining an open and prosperous society.  It is sometimes argued that those who call for clarity on...

    9th November 2022

  • "We are calling for a full review of the Equal Treatment Bench Book, and for clear language and data about sex throughout the entire justice system."

    Why are judges still calling rapists “she” in court?

    The Equal Treatment Bench Book is a guide to judges on how to run an inclusive court room. But it is not based on the law, and it is leading judgments astray. Sex Matters has published a new report on the problems with the Equal Treatment Bench Book. In...

    7th November 2022

  • If the guidance is agreed in this form, it will have a chilling effect on debate on legal and public policy issues.

    New guidance for barristers curtails freedom of speech and promotes discrimination

    The Bar Standards Board has been holding a public consultation on its new guidance on the regulation of non-professional conduct use of social media by barristers. Barristers are bound by their duties “not to behave in a way which is likely to diminish the trust and confidence which the...

    6th November 2022

  • Join the petition champions

    Petition champions

    After just three days we were over a quarter of the way to the 100,000 signatures needed to prompt a parliamentary debate. We’ve now got more than 40,000 signatures. Thank you to everyone who has already signed the Make the Equality Act Clear Petition. Every signature helps! If everyone...

    5th November 2022

  • Campaign update: Day 1

    Yesterday we launched the Make the Equality Act Clear petition, calling on the government to clarify, with a legislative amendment, that sex means sex in the Equality Act 2010. It got an amazing response. In less than 24 hours, 15,000 people signed the petition, and the number is continuing...

    3rd November 2022

  • Sex Matters writes to MSPs

    Tomorrow 27th October is the Stage 1 debate on the Gender Recognition Reform Bill by the Scottish Parliament. Sex Matters has written to MSPs and sent them a copy of our “Sex and the Law” booklet. Equality law remains an area which is reserved for UK wide legislation, yet...

    26th October 2022

  • "We think Squires’ legal analysis in this advice is fundamentally flawed."

    Converting minds or bodies? 

    A riposte to the Good Law Project’s published advice on conversion therapy

    16th August 2022

  • Interpreting the law canbe hard – we've made it easy for you

    Sex and the law – share our short guide

    What does intersex mean? Are you allowed to mention someone’s sex if they don’t want you to? Has someone with a gender recognition certificate changed their sex? Do you have the right to privacy when you’re taking your clothes off? Is it discrimination to keep male people out of...

    4th August 2022

  • The Forstater judgment – what does it mean for employers?

    What does the Forstater judgment mean for employers?

    On 6th July 2022 an employment tribunal found that Maya Forstater had been directly discriminated against by the Center for Global Development because of her beliefs.  This follows on from the precedent-setting judgment of the Employment Appeal Tribunal in June 2021, which found that the “gender critical” belief “that...

    8th July 2022

  • "My case matters for everyone who believes in the importance of truth and free speech."

    A win for free speech and sex-based rights

    Sex Matters’ Executive Director, Maya Forstater, has won her employment tribunal case against her former employer. Here is her press statement: Maya Forstater, who took a claim for belief discrimination against her former employer, the Center for Global Development, has been vindicated by a ruling that she was unlawfully...

    6th July 2022

  • Trans rights activist recused: “The evidence of the lay member’s position [...] must again lead that observer to conclude that there would remain a real possibility of unconscious bias.”

    Edward Lord recused from hearing gender-critical belief case

    A recent hearing of the Employment Appeal Tribunal considered whether trans rights activist Edward Lord was a suitable person to hear a case of gender-critical belief discrimination. The case of Kristie Higgs v Farmor’s School concerns whether restrictions of the free-speech rights of critics of the transgender movement are...

    5th July 2022

  • Male and female in the Equality Act 

    Last week Old Square Chambers hosted a seminar about single-sex services and the law. Barristers Nicola Newbegin and Robin Moira White argued that biological sex is something that “popped up” recently in relation to the Equality Act. The meaning of the protected characteristic of “sex”, they said, is ambiguous and...

    21st June 2022

  • Impartial?

    Who is Edward Lord?

    Can a person who accuses everyone who disagrees with radical gender ideology of “transphobia” be the right person to hear a case about discrimination for gender-critical belief?

    20th June 2022

  • Will Scotland’s proposed self-ID law increase trans unemployment?

    Sex self-ID in Scotland and transgender unemployment

    The Gender Recognition Act 2004 was an extraordinary piece of legislation intended for an extraordinary group of people. It was passed to allow people who had transitioned under medical supervision to change the legal sex recorded on their birth certificate “for all purposes”.  Now the Scottish Government is...

    14th June 2022

  • The Equality Act 2010 protects people with gender-critical beliefs

    We have been worthy of respect for a whole year!

    A year ago today Maya Forstater won a critical judgment in the Employment Appeal Tribunal, establishing that gender-critical beliefs are “worthy of respect in a democratic society”. The judgment had many implications: Employers should not refuse to employ someone because they have expressed gender-critical views online. Organisations should recognise...

    10th June 2022

  • Sex realists gaining ground at Westminster

    Debates on new laws in Parliament are one of the key battlefields between sex realists and sex denialists, with one side seeking clarity on sex, and the other seeking to conflate and confuse sex and gender identity.  A long-term strategy of the sex-denial lobbyists has been to propose legislation seemingly...

    31st May 2022

  • Is Scotland going to turn the UK into an identity-laundering haven?

    As part of Sex Matters’ response to the Scottish Parliament consultation on GRA reform we raised security concerns. This has been reported in the Telegraph and the Times, and Maya Forstater had a Thunderer piece in the Times. Identity matters The involvement of the state with an individual’s identity...

    18th May 2022

  • We’ve responded – have you?

    We’ve told the Scottish Parliament our views – have you?

    We asked you to respond to the consultation on Scotland’s draft bill to reform the Gender Recognition Act 2004 and introduce self-ID, whether you’re in Scotland or not (because if legal sex change just by self-declaration is allowed in Scotland, it will make it easier for it to be come...

    16th May 2022

  • Say NO to self-ID in Scotland

    Self-ID: tell the Scottish Parliament your views!

    When the Gender Recognition Act came into force in 2004, it was a single regime for the UK. The Scottish Executive at the time considered whether Scotland should have separate legislation, but rejected this approach due to “cross-border anomalies”. In 2019 the UK government stepped back from its plan...

    3rd May 2022

  • "If I win, HR departments will have to pay attention, and recognise that adopting ‘gender self-ID’ and enforcing its mantras creates a risk of legal liability."

    Interview with Maya Forstater

    Sex Matters’ Executive Director Maya Forstater won an important judgment in 2021 in her employment discrimination case. Now she is going back to court. Before her hearing begins next week on 7th March, Sex Matters interviewed Maya about her journey.

    2nd March 2022

  • “How digital identities can solve the problem with sex and gender identity – and how getting it wrong will make the problem worse.”

    A radically simpler system than gender self-ID

    Critics of the Gender Recognition Act who call for gender self-identification say the current system is too much of an administrative burden. They are calling on the government to bring people together to find solutions.

    21st February 2022

  • Responses to the government consultation on banning conversion therapy

    The government's consultation on conversion therapy has now closed, and the responses are being analysed. More than a thousand people used the form on our website to send the government their own responses to the consultation.

    11th February 2022

  • Do crime victims deserve respect?

    We think crime victims deserve respect, dignity, sensitivity, compassion and courtesy, as specified in the Victims’ Code.

    10th February 2022

  • “We are gravely concerned by the attacks on the Equality and Human Rights Commission and call for you to support it.”

    Will the Joint Committee on Human Rights defend the EHRC?

    Sex Matters has written to the Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR) to urge it to write to the United Nations to confirm its parliamentary role in overseeing the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) and stating its confidence in the EHRC, after recent attacks which have sought to...

    9th February 2022

  • Logos of organisations listed

    Organisations unite to praise the EHRC

    Twenty different campaigning groups from across the UK have come together in a statement of response on the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s recent communications – with the UK Government about conversion therapy and with the Scottish Government about reform of the Gender Recognition Act. The EHRC has come...

    31st January 2022

  • Naomi Cunningham named in The Lawyer‘s 2022 Hot 100

    Naomi Cunningham, employment and discrimination barrister and Chair of Sex Matters, has received a prestigious industry accolade, in part for her outstanding work in the debate on sex and gender, in The Lawyer’s annual “Hot 100”.

    17th January 2022

  • The speakers in Middle Temple

    Opposing the return of gay conversion therapy: a lawyer’s view

    On 16 November 2021, writes Sex Matters Chair Naomi Cunningham, I gave a talk at the Middle Temple LGBTQ+ Forum’s inaugural annual dinner, to an audience of barristers and Bar students, and their guests. Middle Temple is one of the four ancient Inns of Court: aspiring barristers must join...

    16th January 2022

  • College of Policing ordered to dial down the “chilling” effect on public debate

    Sex Matters welcomes today’s landmark judgment from the Court of Appeal on the recording of non-crime hate incidents.  It comes three years after Harry Miller received a visit from Humberside Police and had a non-crime hate incident recorded against his name after his tweets were reported as transphobic by...

    20th December 2021

  • X passports appeal dismissed

    The Supreme Court has unanimously dismissed Christie Elan-Cane’s case for an “X” passport. The judgment states  “There is no judgment of the European Court of Human Rights which establishes a positive obligation to recognise a gender category other than male or female, and none which would require the Secretary...

    15th December 2021

  • No need for sex data on domestic abuse?

    Yesterday the Domestic Abuse Commissioner launched a survey for survivors of domestic abuse about their experience of using domestic abuse services across England and Wales: “We are running this survey so that we can understand what is good about domestic abuse services in different areas of the country, and...

    7th December 2021

  • Law Commission recommends protection for gender critical views from “chilling effect”

    The Law Commission today released its report and recommendations on hate-crime legislation. It recommends extending hate-crime laws but calls for specific protection from prosecution for gender-critical views. The Commission explicitly disagreed with Stonewall and GIRES (the Gender Identity Research and Education Society), which had said that there should not be...

    7th December 2021

  • Sex and gender: belief and agnosticism after Forstater

    The August 2021 edition of The Employment Lawyers Association (ELA) Briefing features a very helpful article by Akua Reindorf of Cloisters on the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) Judgment in the Forstater case. She asks “Has the EAT’s decision in Forstater brought any light to the heated debate on the...

    2nd August 2021

  • Fighting for the principle of collecting data on biological sex

    A guest post by MurrayBlackburnMackenzie. Scottish Parliament Public Petition: Call for signatures In early June MurrayBlackburnMackenzie (MBM) lodged a petition with the Scottish Parliament Public Petitions Committee. It calls on the Scottish government to require Police Scotland to accurately record the sex of people charged or convicted of rape...

    27th June 2021

  • We are worthy of respect in a democratic society

    Today, after two years of legal battles, Sex Matters co-founder Maya Forstater achieved a landmark legal ruling that looks set to change the direction of the sex and gender debates in the UK, and provide legal protection for gender-critical people against discrimination and harassment.  Mr Justice Choudhury overturned an...

    10th June 2021

  • Truth and reconciliation

    How should the public sector leave the Stonewall Champions Scheme?

    6th June 2021

  • Time to #LeaveStonewall

    This is the letter we have sent to the CEOs of the 850 organisations that are members of the Stonewall Diversity Champions Scheme. Re: Leaving the Stonewall Diversity Champions Scheme We are writing to call on you to withdraw from the scheme, both for the sake of your own...

    29th May 2021

  • EHRC and Stonewall logos splitting

    EHRC Chairwoman writes to Sex Matters: we have left Stonewall

    This week we received welcome news in a letter from Baroness Kishwer Falkner. The Equality and Human Rights Commission is no longer part of the controversial Stonewall Diversity Champions Scheme. She said that the Commission seeks to ensure that all staff enjoy “acceptance without exception”. We responded welcoming this...

    23rd May 2021

  • Open Letter to the Equality and Human Rights Commission

    A letter to Kishwer, Baroness Falkner of Margravine, Caroline Waters OBE, and the Commissioners of the Equality and Human Rights Commission

    7th May 2021

  • The Yogyakarta Principles: women’s rights were not considered

    Julie Bindel and Melanie Newman talked to Professor Robert Wintemute in The Critic.

    9th April 2021

  • Sex (or gender?) as a hate crime: why the rush?

    The push to adopt a gender neutral definition of “misogyny” as a hate crime with amendment 87B to the Domestic Abuse Bill (being debated this afternoon in the House of Lords) is another attempt at the political erasure of sex. Why the rush when the Law Commission is working...

    17th March 2021

  • Stonewalling the Domestic Violence Bill: Why make “misogyny” gender neutral?

    A short month ago there was an attempt to rush a bill through parliament that would set a precedent of “gender neutralising” motherhood in law; replacing the words mother or woman with  “pregnant person” in the Ministerial and other Maternity Allowances (MOMA) Bill.   As Baroness Noakes highlighted, this is...

    13th March 2021

  • Allison Bailey’s case against Stonewall will proceed

    Allison Bailey is suing Stonewall Diversity Limited to stop them policing free speech. She is a barrister and helped to set up a new organisation for lesbian, gay and bisexual people, the LGB Alliance, to provide an alternative to Stonewall. In retaliation, Stonewall had her investigated by her chambers....

    19th February 2021

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