Amnesty cites ‘transphobic fear-mongering’ in damning report claiming UK is ‘rushing to abandon human rights’

LGBTQ

2019’s Trans Pride march in Dundee, Scotland
(Stewart Kirby/SOPA Images/LightRocket/ Getty)

“Serious concerns” about hostile attitudes towards human rights in the UK, including the government’s failure to reform gender recognition laws and “transphobic fear-mongering”, have been raised by international human rights group Amnesty International.

The stark rebuke of the British government comes in Amnesty’s annual report on human rights around the world.

Policies on immigration, housing and current efforts to curtail the right to protest mean the UK is “speeding towards the cliff edge” when it comes to upholding and preserving human rights legislation.

In its 408-page report, Amnesty also condemns the Conservative government’s failure to reform the Gender Recognition Act (GRA) in September 2020 as a move that “fell short of human rights standards”.

The GRA is the 2004 law that adult trans men and women use to get legal recognition of their gender. It is widely seen as outdated, overly bureaucratic, expensive, and exclusionary of non-binary people and under 18’s.

A huge consultation into potential reforms of the GRA attracted more than 108,000 responses, with 80 per cent of respondents in favour of de-medicalising the process of obtaining a gender recognition certificate, and three-quarters in favour of dropping a requirement for trans people to provide “evidence” of living in their chosen gender.

But shelving the reforms, Conservative minister for women and equalities Liz Truss claimed it was “not a priority” for transgender people.

Moreover this, Amnesty said there is “growing transphobic rhetoric and fear-mongering in the media” in the UK.

“For years, the UK has been moving in the wrong direction on human rights – but things are now getting worse at an accelerating rate,” said Amnesty International’s UK director, Kate Allen.

“Having made mistake after lethal mistake during the pandemic, the government is now shamefully trying to strip away our right to lawfully challenge its decisions, no matter how poor they are.”

The report also highlights Britain’s poor handling of the coronavirus pandemic, recent assaults on the right to protest, police discrimination against Black and Asian communities, and the resumed arms trade with Saudi Arabia.

“On the right to protest, on the Human Rights Act, on accountability for coronavirus deaths, on asylum, on arms sales or on trade with despots, we’re speeding toward the cliff edge,” said Allen.

“We need to stop this headlong rush into abandoning our human rights.”

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