Fair Play for Women welcomes Penny Mordaunt’s confirmation that women’s groups have “legitimate concerns” about legal reforms around gender, and the opening of the consultation today.
FPFW, a campaign group for women’s rights, now calls on the Government to make good on those words by engaging fully with women’s groups, and by speaking out against the abuse and intimidation faced by women who express those “legitimate concerns”.
Proposed changes to the Gender Recognition Act could have serious consequences for the functioning of the Equality Act and other laws that allow for women’s spaces and services.
FPFW welcomes the fact that the consultation includes questions about how reform of the GRA will affect the operation of the Equality Act exceptions, and how it might impact on single sex service provision. This will enable the Government to gather further evidence of the impact of any reform on women.
FPFW warns that if minsters listen only to well-funded lobbying groups like Stonewall, that campaign for the sex-based rights in the Equality Act to be weakened, the GRA reform process could result in “the greatest setback for women’s legal rights in a generation”.
Many women who raise these concerns have faced harassment and abuse. Public meetings of feminist groups have faced violent protests and threat of violence. So FPFW was pleased to hear Penny Mordaunt say on Radio Four’s Today Programme today that the Government recognises that our concerns are “understandable and valid and right”.
Mordaunt, the minister for women and equalities said:
“We want to listen to everyone’s voices. Those women who are raising those concerns, those are legitimate concerns that we need to address. We will listen to everyone’s voice in this consultation.”
Nicola Williams, spokeswoman for Fair Play For Women said:
“The Government has finally accepted that many women have real and serious concerns about reforms that could affect their hard-won legal rights. That’s welcome but ministers now need to deliver on those words by engaging fully with the questions these reforms could raise.”
Transgender lobbying groups want the Government to adopt a system of self-identification of sex, where a male could obtain the legal status of “female” on his say so alone and with no external checks. That system would be profound threat to women’s legal rights.
Nicola Williams said:
“If anyone can legally become a woman just by saying so, the word “woman” becomes meaningless and laws put in place to protect women and women-only spaces are made pointless. Unless women speak up and ministers listen, women risk losing their long and hard fought rights.”
Despite lobbying from groups like Stonewall, Ministers have said they will not change the Equality Act, which allows for women-only services, spaces and sporting contests.
But FPFW said the Government needs to go further and ensure that the Equality Act can actually be used to provide those services on the ground.
Many service providers are abandoning female-only spaces and services and adopting policies to include those who ‘identify as a woman’ after being advised by lobbying organisations such as Stonewall that providing services only for biological women is legally risky.
In fact, the Equality Act clearly allows such single-sex services. Stonewall, at the same time as advising many organisations on how to implement the Equality Act, has been lobbying Government to get rid of the Equality Act provisions allowing single-sex exemptions.
Nicola Williams, spokeswoman for Fair Play For Women, said:
“Parliament has passed laws allowing for single-sex spaces and services for women and it’s good that the Government has rejected lobbying to get rid of those existing laws. Now politicians need to uphold the laws they passed by giving service providers a clear message that single-sex spaces and services are lawful. They also need to give clear practical guidance on how these single-sex policies can be implemented on the ground.”
Notes for Editors:
Fair Play For Women is a grassroots campaign group of ordinary women who are concerned that in the rush to reform gender laws that women’s voices will not be heard. Fair Play aims to bring clarity and to enable a rational, evidence-led debate to be had. We are a reliable and authoritative information source on all the key topics in the debate.
Nicola Williams is available for interview and comment.
FPFW said that gender reforms raise huge questions that the Government must answer to allay women’s fears.
How do we protect the group in society with female biology if society agrees ‘women’ no longer describes them exclusively?
The answers to these questions have unprecedented implications for women’s sex-based rights. If anyone can choose their sex based on how they feel, not biology, surgery or a medical diagnosis, rights women now take for granted become meaningless in law and practice.
The right for all women and girls to choose single sex spaces in certain sensitive situations, such as when changing or showering, or sleeping in shared accommodation
The right for women to choose to compete in single sex sports at any level
The importance of statistics such as equal pay, crime statistics etc to be collected on the basis of biological sex as well as or instead of the gender people say they feel
That even voicing opinions on and demands for women’s rights not be labelled or even considered ‘hate speech’ or ‘discrimination’, even when they may conflict with the demands of some trans rights activists
The right to meet and organise politically with other women about issues that affect us on the basis of our female biology