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Lord Evans of Temple Guiting: My Lords, I am sorry to intervene, but the Companion tells us that visual aids are not allowed in the Chamber. It is very emphatic on that. I apologise if I have spoilt the intervention of the noble Lord, Lord Tebbit.

Lord Tebbit: My Lords, with every respect to the noble Lord, if we were to go down that path, Ministers could not read their briefs. I do not accept that his is a rightful interpretation of the Companion, and I shall proceed as I intended regardless.

The visual aid which I have, which is rather akin to the visual aids used by Ministers, is nothing more nor less than my birth certificate. I am sorry if the noble Lord does not like birth certificates to be produced in the House, but I shall continue to produce mine.

I notice on the right hand side, it says:


If anyone were to seek a copy of my birth certificate, it would be incumbent on the registrar to insert in the margin notes that appeared in the original entry. If I decided that I should change sex and got the approval of the gender recognition panel for a change of gender, a certificate would be issued in which it would be forbidden to insert the notes in the margin. As I said earlier, to which the noble Lord, Lord Filkin, did not allude in his reply, it cautions any person who falsifies any of the particulars on the certificate, or who uses it as true knowing it to be false, and he would be liable to prosecution under the Forgery Act or the Perjury Act.

The Government should sort out the implications of that before resisting the amendment moved by my noble friend Lord Marlesford to delete Clause 21. Plainly they have not thought the matter through. If the Bill is enacted and a new birth certificate is copied, it would not have on it what was on the original. It would therefore be false. It would not be adequate according to the birth certificate which I have, and it would constitute either fraud or perjury. The Government need to think their way through that.

Baroness Hollis of Heigham: My Lords, first, I shall comment on the argument of the noble Lord, Lord Tebbit, before turning to the point raised by the noble Lord, Lord Marlesford. The noble Lord, Lord Tebbit, hung an issue on an available amendment which essentially is that he believes that any re-registration in the new gender, by virtue of a new birth certificate, is in some way fraudulent and makes one a liar. I believe that is where he comes from. I suspect that there will be absolutely no meeting of minds on this matter.

Lord Tebbit: My Lords, I am saying that in my case the original birth certificate would state that I was

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born a boy. If I had a change of gender and acquired the appropriate certificate, a new birth would state that I was born a girl. Quite clearly, those two certificates would be in conflict.

Baroness Hollis of Heigham: My Lords, that is because the noble Lord thinks that the second birth certificate would, in some sense, be a lie because it differed from the first birth certificate. The point is that the second certificate would be a new certificate and not a copy of the original. Therefore, it would be as valid a document as the original birth certificate. That is the position of the Government. I know that the noble Lord does not accept that and that other noble Lords also may not accept it, but that is the whole point of having a new birth certificate.

Earl Ferrers: My Lords—

Baroness Hollis of Heigham: My Lords, I shall defer to the wishes of the House. We can spar, but I am mindful that the House will want, if possible, to complete Report stage tonight. However, if the noble Earl insists on speaking, of course I shall give way.

Earl Ferrers: My Lords, I do not wish to trouble the noble Baroness any more.

Baroness Hollis of Heigham: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Earl for his courtesy. I return to the amendment tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Marlesford. Changing gender is a difficult process. It is difficult in terms of the person's own identity and in terms of his or her relationship with other people. I believe that we would all accept that respect for a person's private life means that we must alleviate some of the dangers of humiliation, embarrassment and harassment.

As we have discussed, it is a medical condition whereby a person feels driven to live in the opposite gender. I do not think that being reminded of the original gender, being confronted by it regularly, having others knowing that you suffer from the medical condition and knowing that they might be talking about it, is conducive to feeling secure. I believe that that makes it difficult to live in the acquired gender in dignity.

That is why the Bill contains protections for the privacy of transsexual people, a privacy that is in accord with ECHR, despite the challenge of the noble Lord, Lord Marlesford. We have checked on that. These protections prevent harm to the transsexual person and to his or her family and friends. In turn, do they cause harm to others?

In Clause 21, as your Lordships have already discussed, there are references to exclusions, crime detection and hearings before courts and tribunals where information of the original birth gender may be properly disclosed. Clause 21 also has another important limit. Not only does it enumerate a list of exceptions that allow disclosure where it is justified in terms of public policy, but it extends only to information that is acquired in an official capacity, as

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the noble Lord, Lord Marlesford, recognises. It does not intrude into the private sphere; it is not for the state to determine what friends may or may not say to each other about another friend or what family members may talk about. The law has limits beyond which ethics alone must suffice. With those remarks, I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Marlesford, will feel able to withdraw his amendment.

Lord Marlesford: My Lords, it is late and uncharacteristically the noble Baroness has given a self-contradictory reply. She started off by talking about the importance of Clause 21 which is to ensure that people do not chat or gossip about the situation, so making people feel uncomfortable with having had a gender change. Then she went on to point out that the limitations of Clause 21 would not make the slightest difference to that because it does not involve private people next door to each other who do not come under the limits drawn by Clause 21. Therefore, I go back to my point. Recognising the need for privacy and recognising that there is already provision for privacy under general practices, I found the Minister's answer unconvincing. It is an important issue. The Bill would be greatly improved without the clause, precisely because it meets a danger that is not there and does not meet a danger that the Minister suggested was avoided by it.

However, it is perhaps a little late in the evening to test the opinion of the House, so, for the moment, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 22 [Power to modify statutory instruments]:

Lord Filkin moved Amendment No. 118:


    Page 10, line 3, at end insert—


"( ) Before an order is made under this section, appropriate consultation must be undertaken with persons likely to be affected by it."

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 23 [Orders and regulations]:

Lord Filkin moved Amendments Nos. 119 to 121:


    Page 10, line 5, after "State," insert "the Chancellor of the Exchequer,"


    Page 10, line 9, after "State" insert ", the Chancellor of the Exchequer"


    Page 10, line 12, at end insert—


"( ) No order may be made under section 2 or paragraph 11 of Schedule 3 unless a draft of the statutory instrument containing the order has been laid before, and approved by a resolution of, each House of Parliament."

On Question, amendments agreed to.

[Amendment No. 122 not moved.]

Lord Filkin moved Amendment No. 123:


    Page 10, line 14, leave out "2" and insert "7"

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendment No. 124 not moved.]

Lord Filkin moved Amendment No. 125:


    Page 10, line 17, after "section" insert "21 or"

On Question, amendment agreed to.

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[Amendments Nos. 126 to 128 not moved.]

Clause 25 [Commencement]:

On Question, Whether Clause 25 shall stand part of the Bill?

Baroness Buscombe: My Lords, when we debated in Grand Committee whether Clause 25 should stand part of the Bill, I expressed my belief that the Bill should not come into force until the civil partnership Bill is enacted. We should have had an opportunity to debate that Bill first, particularly given the difficulty that many noble Lords, including myself, have had with coming to terms with a Bill that requires, in the event of an individual wishing to acquire full gender recognition, that he or she must, if married, go through the process of a divorce or annulment. If the civil partnership Bill does not reach the statute book, those who have divorced in order to acquire full gender recognition will be left in a terrible limbo.

I am sorry that the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Winchester is not in his place because I wanted to take this opportunity to confirm that I do not believe that marriage and civil partnership are the same. Noble Lords may remember from our debate in Grand Committee that the right reverend Prelate was concerned at the suggestion that one could move seamlessly from marriage to a civil partnership arrangement. I would wish to see the process and time frame of moving from one state, marriage, to another, civil partnership, being made as smooth and straightforward as possible. That does not mean that the status of being in a civil partnership is equal to that of marriage.

I fear that by debating this Bill prior to the publication of a civil partnership Bill we are able only to hope that the latter will be enacted and will contain provisions to allow couples to enjoy some of the legal—I stress, legal—obligations proposed, for example, in the Private Member's Bill that was introduced in 2002 by the noble Lord, Lord Lester of Herne Hill.


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