UN Report says EHRC gave Government a Blueprint for Trans Discrimination

The United Nations Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity released his report recently following a visit to the UK from April-May 2023. In summary, it is damning in parts and glowing in others. 

The report takes a clear stance in line with what Trans and LGBT advocates have been reporting and features a scathing critique of the Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC). Recommendations for the governments of the UK included implementing Self-ID, bringing in the conversion therapy ban that was promised in 2018, and pretty much everything else we have been asking for.

Victor Madrigal-Borloz details how the EHRC has been backing the government knowing that they are risking their existence to do so. This relationship goes far enough that the report, with quotes from their own committee meetings, shows that “the Commission inappropriately offered the Government a formula to seek to exclude trans and gender-diverse persons from legal protections”. 

The EHRC has to be independent and was created to protect human rights of everyone, especially marginalised people. This is in direct conflict with the most basic duties of the EHRC, and backs up what trans advocates have been saying in recent years. 

The EHRC has been accused of neglecting its responsibilities with stakeholders and failing to be independent from government financially and in appointments. EHRC commissioners have become leading lawyers in anti-trans cases, and have connections to far-right christian organisations. Even Kemi Bedendoch openly admitted on X that as part of the effort to block trans healthcare gender-critical people in Government held “the positions that mattered most in Equalities and Health.” 

Despite this, the EHRC maintained “A” status accreditation following a special review by the Global Alliance of Human Rights Institutions, a trusted partner of the UN. The special review was instigated following third-party submissions from various UK civil rights organisations and advocates in October 2023. They stated the EHRC is not independent enough from the government on LGBT issues and is not fulfilling GANHRI recommendations made in the previous October 2022 review. 

We spoke to a trans advocate about the letters the EHRC sent out to stakeholders to defend their status while under review, and they told us of a complete breakdown in communication and competency. In their opinion the EHRC would need total replacement of the board for it to be in good standing again. So now the big question is, how is it reasonable that an institution can be seen acting in opposition of its duties on local and international scales and stay at this level of prestige?

It is not all doom and gloom though, the report highlights how disproportionately hostile the media reporting and political discourse surrounding trans people is, and how this has a direct increasing effect on hate crimes perpetrated against us. However it also came with multiple, extensive, positive recommendations including: 

  • Bring in Self-ID
  • Ban conversion practices for all LGBT people; use coercive control laws in the meantime
  • Maintain the Equality act without change
  • Not remove protections for LGBT people under asylum (as Braverman wants)
  • Equal access to healthcare without the current degrading barriers
  • Ensuring children in school learn about gender and sexuality as part of their sex education

There are also recommendations regarding the support of LGBT+ elders and trans people in prisons. Similarly there are others for ensuring equal access to shelters and support networks for those facing violence and homelessness, especially non-binary people and trans women of colour, and queer people “without regular migration status”.

Madrigal-Borloz openly aims for an end to all conversion practices globally and called it torture. He made the recommendation that until such a ban exists in the UK, coercive control laws can be used to prosecute conversion abuse especially that occurring in homes. As while conversion may be the aim, the method used is often coercive control.

This report is a vindication to all the trans organisations, advocates and allies that have been fighting against the rising wave of hatred towards us. It shows clearly how what we have been asking for and protesting for are not extreme, or unresearched positions. They are reasonable and in line with international standards on human rights.