Joint Committee On Human Rights Nineteenth Report


The Committee has undertaken pre-legislative scrutiny of the Draft Gender Recognition Bill, Cm. 5875, July 2003. The Draft Bill is the Government's response to decisions of the European Court of Human Rights and the House of Lords holding that aspects of English legislation violate rights under ECHR Article 8 (respect for private life) and Article 12 (right to marry) so far as it refuses to give legal recognition to a transsexual person's reassigned gender.

This Report explains the background to the issues (paragraphs 5 to 8). It then outlines the previous law governing the treatment of transsexual people's identities in the United Kingdom (paragraph 9), the impact of developments which have already occurred in EC law (paragraph 10), the judicial decisions which revealed the incompatibilities between English law and Convention rights (paragraphs 11 to 16), and the Government's interim response (paragraphs 17 to 21).

The Report then evaluates the Draft Gender Recognition Bill in the light of the responses to the Committee's consultation exercise, paying particular attention to the Bill's adequacy as a measure to remove the incompatibilities identified in the litigation in Strasbourg and England, and particular problems to which the legislation itself may give rise. The Committee concludes that the Draft Bill is likely, with certain amendments, to succeed in removing the incompatibilities with Convention rights identified by the European Court of Human Rights and the House of Lords (paragraphs 23 to 29). However, the Committee draws attention to a number of additional issues which, in its view, require further attention, including:

  • the retrospective effect of a change of gender in relation to previously invalid marriages (paragraphs 38 to 43);
  • remedies for litigants whose cases led to the proposed changes in the law (paragraphs 44 to 48);
  • the requirement to dissolve subsisting valid marriages prior to issue of a full gender recognition certificate (paragraphs 81 to 90);
  • the interaction between the provisions of the Draft Bill and proposed legislation on civil partnerships (paragraph 91);
  • the protection of transsexual persons against discrimination in the fields of education, housing and the provision of goods, facilities and services (paragraphs 92 to 103).

previous page contents next page

House of Lords home page Parliament home page House of Commons home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2003
Prepared 20 November 2003