Fighting for legal and social recognition outside the gendered societal structure
BLUE DIAMOND SOCIETY
I have written before about the remarkable achievements of the Blue Diamond Society in Nepal.
After the terrible events of this week, Blue Diamond Society is struggling to provide assistance to Nepal’s LGBT citizens that includes the recognised “third gender”.
Funds are urgently required. Here are Blue Diamond Society’s bank details for those in a position to donate http://www.bds.org.np/donate-us/.
CONSERVATIVES SUDDEN NEW COMMITMENT TO ‘X’
A curious quote from Colm Howard-Lloyd of LGBTory that relates to his party’s commitment to review the provision of non gender-specific ‘X’ passports for people who do not define as ‘M’ or ‘F’.
“….our commitment to review the provision of gender neutral passports and other measures in support of transgender and intersex people….”
I have never met Mr Howard-Lloyd although have been reliably informed by a mutual acquaintance that he is onside. LGBTory however, unlike its Labour and Liberal Democrat counterparts, did not respond once to my communications in respect of rallying support for EDM 47. And out of 80 signatures just four were Conservatives http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2014-15/47.
The Conservatives might now be attempting to backtrack after the outrage over their mishandling of this issue and with political and legal challenges directed at HM Passport Office, the most high profile being EDM 47, but I cannot allow either the party or its representatives to rewrite history.
There was no commitment under a Conservative led government, just a sham ‘review’ by HM Passport Office used as a means to close the door permanently on ‘X’ passport provision in the UK.
The facts as follows:
As part of the now discredited trans* equality action plan it was agreed that a review would be undertaken by former Identity and Passport Service (now HMPO). This would run from Jan 2012-Feb 2013.
My MP Simon Hughes challenged former Home Secretary Theresa May in a Written Parliamentary Question to publish the outcome of a highly secretive internal review (highly secretive = no review actually took place). This was after the former Identity and Passport Service had informed me, via Simon Hughes, of an unequivocal rejection of ‘X’ passports on the grounds there was effectively no requirement. The letter dated 09/04/13 was extremely offensive and the author appeared to go out of his way to be offensive. The letter was signed by former IPS CEO Sarah Rapson but it was later admitted had been written by a senior policy adviser.
Simon Hughes’ WPQ was tabled to the Home Secretary 21/05/13.
A reply was received on 13/06/13 by former Immigration Minister Mark Harper who undertook to publish the ‘review’ outcome in the parliamentary Library**:
“Simon Hughes: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department
(1) if she will place in the Library a copy of the outcome and recommendations of the review undertaken by the Identity and Passport Service into the use of gender markings in the British passport; 
(2) which external stakeholders have been consulted by the Identity and Passport Service into the use of gender markings in the British passport. 
Mr Harper: The then Identity and Passport Service (now Her Majesty’s Passport Office) undertook an internal review into the use of gender markings in the British passport. The review primarily consisted of consideration of existing available material, together with liaison with a number of domestic and international stakeholders. As the nature of the contact with those stakeholders did not indicate any intention to publish their views, I will seek agreement from those stakeholders for their views to be published and, upon receipt of this consent, will place a copy of the full review in the Library of the House**.
I have, however, today placed a copy of the letter sent to the right hon. Member on 9 April 2013 that sets out the findings of the review and the agreed course of action to retain the existing use of ‘M’ and ‘F’ markings only in the passport. This letter has been redacted to remove personal information.”
Several months passed before a hastily cobbled together document was placed in the Library of both Houses and published on the Parliament website.
Publication of ‘review outcome’ was preceded by a floor debate on 30/01/14 where Hugh Bayley MP (Labour) asked former Culture Secretary Maria Miller “What assessment she has made of the feasibility of issuing non-gender-specific official documents to people who do not identify as a particular gender.”
The response from Maria Miller: “Non-gender is not recognised in UK law. The Equality Act 2010 protects people from discrimination if it arises from their being perceived as either male or female. We recognise that a very small number of people consider themselves to be of neither gender. We are not aware that that results in any specific detriment, and it is not Government policy to identify such people for the purpose of issuing non-gender-specific official documents.”
And a WPQ from Stephen Doughty (Labour) to the Home Secretary on 03/02/14 “To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment she has made of the introduction of gender non-specific passports; and what discussions she has had with international counterparts on this matter.”
The reply from former Immigration Minister Mark Harper on the same day: “Her Majesty's Passport Office (HMPO) undertook an internal review into the use of gender markers in the British passport. I am today placing a copy of that review in the Library of both Houses….”
Later that week Mark Harper was sacked as Immigration Minister over a seemingly unrelated incident.
The publication of this document dispelled any doubts held by some as to the integrity of the ‘review’ process
While in between parliamentary sessions (and governments) at Westminster, a motion has been tabled in the Scottish Parliament in support of EDM 47 and the need for ‘X’ Passports.
For those reading this from north of the border, requesting you contact your local MSP and urge their support.
The denial of existence is the worst act of discrimination by the gendered majority against the non-gendered