29.The Gender Recognition Act (GRA) 2004, which came into force in April 2005, allowed, for the first time, trans people whose birth was registered in the UK25 to have their acquired / affirmed26 gender (either male or female) recorded on their birth certificate.27 Under the Act, application may be made to the Gender Recognition Panel (GRP)28 for gender recognition. If successful, the applicant will be issued with a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC), which permits the holder to be recognised for all legal purposes (including marriage) as belonging to their acquired gender.29
30.When the GRA was drafted it was the first gender-recognition legislation in the world not to require individuals to have undergone surgical sterilisation prior to recognition in their acquired gender.30 At the time, it was thus considered to be world-leading. However, we were told by witnesses that it was now “outdated” and “in need of significant revision”.31 More recent gender-recognition legislation in several countries is widely regarded as providing a more enlightened model for the UK to follow.
31.In this chapter we review the key issues that have arisen in our inquiry in this respect. As we have already stated, the position of people with non-binary and non-gendered identities was beyond the scope of our inquiry, and in particular we note that the Gender Recognition Act makes no provision for this group. The Government must look into the need to create a legal category for those people with a gender identity outside that which is binary and the full implications of this.
32.Under the current law, applicants for a GRC are required to prove that they:
33.The current process of applying for a GRC was described to us as “bureaucratic”, “expensive” and “humiliating”. Witnesses told us that it required the collection and submission of substantial quantities of evidence of a type which ought to have no bearing on the granting of gender recognition.33
34.The Government has justified the £140 fee for GRC applications on the grounds that: charging for a range of official services is normal; the fee helps to cover the administrative cost of the service; and that a large proportion of applicants are exempt from paying.34
35.Although the Act makes no requirement for medical treatment to have taken place, such treatment will be accepted as part of the supporting evidence for a GRC application. It can be proved by means of a letter from the applicant’s GP giving details of treatment. Where no evidence of treatment is provided, the Panel may ask for evidence regarding why treatment has not been commenced.
36.The requirement to provide documentation regarding a diagnosis of gender dysphoria was particularly contentious. Mr Dunne noted that “the continued ‘pathologisation’ of transgender identities [i.e. treating them as a disease or disorder] through the 2004 Act causes significant offence and distress”.35
37.James Morton, of the Scottish Transgender Alliance, explained how distressing the Panel’s approach can be for applicants. His organisation had supported:
a number of trans people who have been really traumatised and humiliated by the process where they have [had to say whether they have] undergone various medical treatments. The Act says you should be able to access your gender recognition without necessarily having those, and yet the gender recognition panel has insisted on really intrusive levels of detail about the surgeries that people have undergone or their intentions for future surgery. We have had, for example, a young person in their early 20s who has not yet had any sexual relationships being forced to decide and state categorically whether or not they want genital surgery and being questioned over the fact that initially they wanted breast augmentation but then grew breasts through hormone treatment. Panels have been incredibly pedantic about any perceived inconsistencies in the medical reports, which means that people end up extremely upset and feel really invalidated.36
38.The requirement for a minimum of two years living “in role” was also seen as arbitrary and unreasonable, and we were told that this caused problems with identity documents (given that this must be done before legal gender recognition has been granted).
39.In a series of countries, gender recognition now takes place on the basis of gender self-declaration by the applicant, without the onerous requirements that exist under the GRA. Mr Dunne explained this to us:
In the decade since the 2004 Act was first introduced […] a seismic shift has occurred at the interface between gender identity advocacy and human rights law. Many transgender individuals now view “self-declaration” as the most appropriate vehicle through which the State can recognise preferred gender. In the United Kingdom, advocates support their claim to self-declaration by reference to recent reforms in the Netherlands, Argentina, Denmark, Malta, Columbia and Ireland. Moving away from the pathologisation of transgender identities, these jurisdictions (soon to be joined by Sweden, Norway and Belgium) have embraced a wholly non-medicalised model of legal gender recognition. […] [T]he new Argentine, Danish, Maltese and Irish rules focus exclusively on an applicant’s self-identification.37
40.Mr Dunne further told us that “a model of self-declaration […] really is now the gold standard” for the law on gender recognition in western European jurisdictions. He also drew to our attention the fact that the Council of Europe’s Resolution 2048 on Discrimination against transgender people in Europe calls on member states to “Develop quick, transparent and accessible procedures, based on self determination”.38
41.In July 2015, Ashley Reed initiated a petition on the UK Government and Parliament petitions website advocating that trans people should be able to define their own gender for the purposes of obtaining a GRC, along the lines of the Irish Gender Recognition Act 2015.39 To date, this petition has been signed by more than 30,000 people. We invited Ashley to give evidence to us. She told us:
it is humiliating to have your gender assessed by someone else. You are the only person who can come to that realisation, not a panel. It is an outdated system. The current system just does not provide for what is the majority of trans people nowadays. In terms of expense, there is a £140 fee, which can be subsidised or paid for, but it is a system that puts a lot of people off applying. It certainly put me off applying, because I do not feel it necessary to have my gender looked at by a group of people.40
42.Ashley Reed’s petition received a Government reply,41 provided by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ). This gave no indication that the Government intends to change the GRA in any respect.
43.Caroline Dinenage MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the MoJ, appeared open to the idea of change when she appeared before us:
We were quite ground breaking internationally in introducing this form of legislation. Because of that, we had very little international basis for comparison when drawing this up […] Since then, we have seen other countries around the world—most recently Ireland—come up with legislation that differs from ours […] These are all really important experiences for us to learn from, to see how that works in countries like Ireland, Malta and Argentina, where […] it is different. We are very much on a journey […] and trying to learn from the best practice around the world, from those who did not start off with this legislation as early as we did but have now done things slightly differently based on the learned information they now have and based on the fact that in the last five years we have moved on such a long way in understanding trans issues.42
44.While we recognise the importance of the Gender Recognition Act as pioneering legislation when it was passed, it is clear that the Act is now dated. The medicalised approach regarding mental-health diagnosis pathologises trans identities; as such, it runs contrary to the dignity and personal autonomy of applicants.
45.Within the current Parliament, the Government must bring forward proposals to update the Gender Recognition Act, in line with the principles of gender self-declaration that have been developed in other jurisdictions. In place of the present medicalised, quasi-judicial application process, an administrative process must be developed, centred on the wishes of the individual applicant, rather than on intensive analysis by doctors and lawyers.
46.During the inquiry, we considered evidence and sought specialist legal advice regarding the issue of spousal consent. Since the passing of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013, marriage in the law of England and Wales takes the form of a contract between two people of different sexes or two people of the same sex. Therefore, the law as it currently stands requires both parties to agree to the status of a marriage being changed.
47.Consequently, where one party transitions, the non-trans party must give their consent to the change of marriage status before a full GRC can be issued. If such consent is withheld, the marriage must be dissolved by divorce or annulled43 before a full GRC can be issued. In this circumstance, an interim GRC can be issued, on the basis of which either party to the marriage can apply to have it annulled.
48.Data from HM Courts and Tribunals Service show that 38 full GRCs were issued to married people between 10 December 2014 (when the spousal consent provision came into effect) and the end of June 2015—ten up to the end of March 2015 and a further 28 during April to June 2015.44
49.Evidence demonstrated widespread hostility to the need for spousal consent (referred to as the “spousal veto”), which some trans people feel affects their human rights. A trustee of the Gender Identity Research and Education Service (GIRES) told us:
Trans people are the only group that can have their civil rights delayed by another […] What is clear is that the effect of the veto is that the “feelings” of the non trans spouse are given more importance than the rights of the trans person to gain full civil participation. This is a clear indication that government considers trans people as less than equal.45
50.Dr Karl Rutlidge pointed out that:
This clause gives partners of transgender people power over them that they do not have at any other stage of the process; for example, they cannot stop someone being prescribed hormone therapy or undergoing surgery.46
51.UK Trans Info told us that lack of consent “can delay gender recognition for years if the divorce is a difficult one, and delay it forever if the spouse is in a coma or otherwise unable to consent”.47
52.We further heard that the requirement for consent could lead to domestic abuse. RISE (which supports survivors of domestic violence in Brighton and Hove, and North Sussex) stated that:
The spousal veto is extremely concerning and potentially dangerous for trans people who are experiencing domestic abuse. It is known that abusers will commonly try and prevent a trans partner from transitioning, and trans people may experience honour-based violence in response to their wish to transition. Abusive partners will typically be highly controlling and have a sense of entitlement. The spousal veto gives abusive partners a tool to foster the sense that they have ownership and authority over their partner’s body and identity.48
53.We also heard from Galop (which undertakes casework and advocacy for trans people in London) that the consent provision:
can be dangerous for transgender people in abusive relationships […] The level of power and control it gives someone over their transgender partner is very concerning. If their partner is abusive, they may use this legislation to further ridicule, deny, and disempower.49
54.Another view expressed in respect of the spousal-consent provision was that it is homophobic.50 It should be noted that spousal consent applies to same-sex marriages where one partner transitions, just as it does to different-sex marriages. Moreover, consent from the non-trans partner is also required where a civil partnership is converted to a same-sex marriage and then to a different-sex marriage.
55.The GEO explained to us as follows the Government’s position on the spousal consent provision:
[The requirement for consent] does not mean anyone will have a right to prevent their wife or husband obtaining a legal gender change; simply that they will be allowed to decide whether they want their marriage to continue before gender recognition is granted. Marriage is a contract between two individuals and it is right that both spouses should have an equal say in their future when there is a fundamental change […] The Ministry of Justice has committed to monitor issues arising from the spousal declaration of consent. Since the gender recognition provisions of the 2013 Act were only introduced in December 2014, there is not yet enough evidence to review the impact of these changes.51
56.The MoJ Minister Ms Dinenage also told us:
If we look at how this system works, nobody has the right to prevent their wife or husband from obtaining a legal gender change [...] This is a really careful balancing act between making sure we understand that any marriage contract is a contract between two people and a spouse’s transition can fundamentally change their relationship. For some people, that will not make any difference. For some people, they married a person; they did not marry a man or a woman [...] For others, that might make a difference, particularly because the law allows the new marriage certificate to show the name of the trans spouse, so it is important that they have given their indication that they are happy for that to go ahead.52
57.Mr Dunne told us that, while he was in favour of changing the law in England and Wales regarding spousal consent:
I do not think the English system is open to challenge […] I think the English law does stand up to review under the UK’s obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights [ECHR]. I do not think there is an issue there.53
58.It was emphasised to us in evidence that the marriage law in Scotland is different and more easily accommodates the needs of married trans people who wish to have legal recognition of their acquired gender. Under the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Act 2014, which came into force on 16 December 2014, a married trans person whose spouse does not consent to the granting of a full GRC is able to apply to a Sheriff Court for a full GRC, on the basis of an interim GRC, without divorce or annulment having taken place. The process of obtaining a full GRC is thus expedited. The spouse of a trans person is entitled to be notified of the issuing of a GRC and can initiate divorce proceedings on that basis. Data from HM Courts and Tribunals Service show that no full GRC has yet been issued to an applicant in Scotland who has applied to a Sheriff Court having failed to secure spousal consent.54
59.Ms Dinenage did not rule out considering the Scottish approach to this issue: “I am not saying that we will not be listening to how things are done in Scotland and keeping that in mind”.55
60.The question does arise, given the nature of marriage as a legal contract, whether the Scottish law might be subject to challenge by the courts although Mr Morton, of the Scottish Transgender Alliance, told us that “there has been no sign of any legal challenge being considered by anyone”.56
61.We are very aware of the widespread and strongly felt opposition within the trans community to the provision on spousal consent which was introduced by the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013. We understand that trans people feel this gives their spouses an effective “veto” on the acquisition of a full Gender Recognition Certificate.
62.The nature of marriage (whether same-sex or different-sex) is that of a legal contract between two consenting parties, the terms of which cannot be changed without the consent of both parties. This means that in a marriage where one party transitions, the non-trans spouse does have a legal right to be consulted if it is proposed to change the terms of the marriage contract in consequence—and this right must also be given due weight.
63.We do take very seriously the evidence that we have heard regarding the scope that the spousal-consent provision gives for married trans people to be victimised by spouses with malicious intent. Where this occurs, it is, of course, deplorable and inexcusable. The Government must ensure that it is informed about the extent of this and ways of addressing the problem.
64.Under the GRA as it currently stands, the minimum age limit for GRC applications is 18.57 We heard in evidence that there is growing support for the reduction of this lower age limit.58 The Scottish Transgender Alliance told us that the current limit does not reflect the fact that many people now transition at younger ages. Younger trans people:
often experience significant difficulties with official student records and violations of their right to privacy due to the sex on their birth certificate not reflecting their gender identity. With growing social acceptance, the annual number of children and adolescents coming out as transgender has increased five-fold over four years. We estimate over one thousand transgender young people have now transitioned with the full support of their parents and now require access to legal gender recognition. We call for the GRA standard application route to be opened to 16- and 17-year-olds and a GRA youth application route with the additional requirement of parental agreement to be created for those under 16 years.59
65.Mr Morton of the Alliance further explained:
In Scotland, people get married and make all kinds of important life decisions from 16 onwards60 and, for under-16s, we believe that with parental support people should be able to take forward a change of their legal documents.61
66.Mr Dunne told us:
Recent evidence suggests that young individuals hold a stable gender identity from early childhood. Adolescents in the United Kingdom can consent to medical treatment in the United Kingdom from the age of 16 years. Through youth-focused services, such as London’s Tavistock Clinic,62 transgender adolescents are accessing appropriate, supervised healthcare pathways before the age of majority63 and practitioners now understand how these interventions can substantially improve both mental and physical well-being. Transgender young persons are also engaging in earlier social transitions, developing important networks of peer-support and enjoying formative experiences in their preferred gender.64
67.Mr Dunne also summarised for us the trends in legislation in other countries:
Eighteen is, I think, the general standard, but […] we have to look at what the reasoning was behind that. If you look at the recent jurisprudence, in Argentina there is no limit but there is a court procedure; in Malta there is an administrative procedure, which involves the parents; Sweden is going to move to a 15-and-over self-declaration, and for 12-to-15 it is going to be with parental consent; and in Norway a similar procedure, but from the age of seven, will exist. I would tend to agree, in terms of 16- and 17-year-olds, on self-declaration, and under that age parental consent.65
68.Mr Dunne explained that, in some jurisdictions, where parental consent was not forthcoming in respect of an application for gender recognition regarding a minor, “a court advocate” was provided. The advocate could “act almost in loco parentis”, appearing before the relevant authority to “provide an objective, professional account, which just means that parental support does not become an ultimate hurdle”.66
69.We received evidence from Focus: The Identity Trust advocating a more radical step, namely:
The right of Gender Non-conforming Children and Transgender and Intersex Adolescents […] to have their true gender recognised and respected on the same basis of self-determination without regard to age restrictions based on the Gillick principle of informed consent[.]67
70.For some young people the decision regarding gender recognition is straightforward; for some it is not. It is important that clear safeguards are in place to ensure that long-term decisions about gender recognition are made at an appropriate time. Subject to this caveat, a persuasive case has been made to us in favour of reducing the minimum age at which application can be made for gender recognition. We recommend that provision should be made to allow 16- and 17-year-olds, with appropriate support, to apply for gender recognition, on the basis of self-declaration.
71.We are very cautious about recommending gender recognition in respect of children aged under 16 (subject to parental consent or self-declaration on the basis of Gillick competence), and believe the Government should further consider the possible risks and benefits.
72.It was reported in evidence to us that various bodies and authorities make inappropriate requests for the production of a GRC. The LGBT Consortium told us:
there are instances where there is misuse of the Gender Recognition Act. Local Authorities, schools and employers for example request a Gender Recognition Certificate from trans individuals […] in circumstances where the person either does not qualify (e.g. being under 18 for instance) or where for genuine reasons, the individual feels they cannot obtain a Gender Recognition Certificate.68
73.It is not unlawful under the GRA to ask a person to produce a GRC,69 but it is in almost all circumstances unnecessary. There are very few situations in which it would be appropriate to ask for proof of legal gender (see Chapter Six).
74.In those circumstances where it is necessary to prove legal gender, it is inappropriate to request production of a GRC, as it is the new birth certificate (issued after the granting of a GRC) that provides evidence of a person’s legally recognised gender. (A trans person whose birth was registered in the UK can actually destroy their GRC as soon as they receive it, if they wish.) The EHRC Statutory Code of Practice in respect of the Equality Act 2010 states:
Transsexual people should not be routinely asked to produce their Gender Recognition Certificate as evidence of their legal gender. Such a request would compromise a transsexual person’s right to privacy. If a service provider requires proof of a person’s legal gender, then their (new) birth certificate should be sufficient confirmation.70
75.It may be necessary to produce a GRC in certain very rare instances in order to establish continuity with a former identity, for example:
76.Section 22 of the GRA safeguards the privacy of people with GRCs by defining information in relation to the gender recognition process as “protected information” for the purposes of the Data Protection Act 1998. In this way the Act is intended to protect the privacy rights of trans people under Article 8 of the ECHR.71
77.Under the GRA, anyone who acquires information relating to a person’s gender history in an official capacity is breaking the law if they disclose it without the consent of the person concerned (the “data subject”)—except in certain specific circumstances. Exceptions are set out in Subsection 22(4) and have been expanded and clarified in secondary legislation.72
78.One such exemption relates to “the purposes of the social security system or a pension scheme”. National Insurance and tax records maintained by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), as well as benefit records kept by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), record changes in legal gender automatically on the issuing of a GRC. Information about customers’ original name and legal gender is retained for a period of 50 years and one day after the death of the customer.73
79.A particular area of concern relates to the provision in Section 22 which allows the disclosure of trans status in court. GIRES stated in evidence to us that:
Trans people are frequently “outed” in court situations to create, deliberately, a negative view of them, whether their trans history is relevant or not. The Gender Recognition Act s22(4)(e) has been misused to achieve this.
80.Sir James Munby (President of the Family Division of the High Court) has issued the following statement on this point in respect of family proceedings:
The facts of the individual cases in which the disclosure question will arise are likely to vary widely. In some instances it will be relevant to the issues to know that an individual has a transgender history. In others it will be entirely irrelevant. Disclosure should not [be] permitted in those cases where it is unnecessary and irrelevant to the issues. There is a need for judges to be aware of and astute to the issues.74
81.There are also concerns that misunderstanding of the data protection aspects of the Act inhibits the collection of data on trans people for the legitimate purpose of monitoring inequalities. trans*formation told us:
The Gender Recognition Act (2004) s22 has had the effect of discouraging companies from holding information related to a person as trans*. This means many organizations will not, as policy, hold this information, they do not hold this information in their HR systems and do not ask for this information during employee surveys. This lack of information leads to a paucity of data. This allows organizations to ignore the issue.75
Collection of data for this purpose is in fact clearly permitted under the Act, provided that the data subject has given explicit consent or the data is anonymised.
82.Not a single prosecution has yet been brought for breach of Section 22. There is a six-month time limit (from the date the disclosure was made) on bringing a prosecution.76 It is argued that trans people are frequently not aware of the unlawful disclosure having been made until towards the end of, or even after, this six-month period, Although the evidence of unlawful disclosure is generally straightforward, it is said that police officers often do not realise the seriousness of the offence for the victim and are reticent to pursue a prosecution.77
83.Sussex Police told us that they:
would welcome a consideration to the 6 month timeframe commencing from the point at which the “victim” first becomes aware of the disclosure/transgression. The current situation relies on the “victim” acquiring knowledge within a set time period, as opposed to making a decision based on already known information, meaning that if they found out about the disclosure 7 months later—this would be too late to raise a challenge.78
84.Mr Morton, of the Scottish Transgender Alliance, explained that there may also be problems discerning when disclosure actually entails a breach of Section 22:
What tends to happen in a service provision or employment is that the person in the official capacity sees that you have changed your name and gender on a document, like your employment records or your DWP file, but they do not necessarily know for sure whether you have a gender recognition certificate or not. Therefore, it is much less clear whether they have or have not violated the gender recognition act Section 22 if they reveal that data.
He suggested a provision prohibiting the disclosure of any documented information regarding a person’s change of gender.79
85.When we asked Ms Dinenage about this part of the Act, she told us:
Section 22 of the Gender Recognition Act defines any information relating to a person’s application for a gender recognition certificate or to a successful applicant’s gender history as protected information and therefore a trans person’s gender history, regardless of whether they have a gender recognition certificate, can also constitute sensitive personal data as defined by the Data Protection Act 1998. There should be a massive onus on organisations, if requiring trans people to disclose their gender history in any way, to undertake measures to ensure that this information is protected, because there are fines of up to £5,000 for those who do not.80
86.As regards the lack of prosecutions under Section 22, Ms Dinenage responded:
I do not really have any evidence to suggest that the reason there have not been any successful prosecutions is because the legislation is not working, but, again, these are things that it is very difficult to get evidence on. If this Committee can produce anything like that, I would be very keen to have a look at it.81
87.Evidence we received demonstrates abuse of confidential information about people’s trans status, contrary to Section 22 of the Gender Recognition Act, which is intended to protect trans people against “outing”. However, we note that not a single prosecution has yet been brought under this Section. There is a grave danger that this provision will become (if it has not already become) a “dead letter”. The Ministry of Justice must investigate why there have not been any prosecutions and take action to address this. It must also work with the courts to tackle the issue of trans people being inappropriately “outed” in court proceedings.
25 Trans people whose birth was registered outside the UK can still use the provisions of the GRA to have their acquired gender recognised in the UK, where that acquired gender has been recognised in the relevant jurisdiction.
26 The Act itself only uses the term “acquired gender”.
27 The GRA was passed in response to a 2002 ruling by the European Court of Human Rights that the UK Government was in violation of Article 8 (regarding the right to privacy) and Article 12 (regarding the right to marriage) of the European Convention on Human Rights by not allowing trans people to change their gender in law. The Convention was incorporated into UK law through the Human Rights Act 1998.
28 The GRP is a branch of HM Courts and Tribunal Service under the presidency of a judge. It consists of an administrative team and a judicial panel, the latter being made up of legal and medical members. There is no provision for an applicant to appear in person before the judicial panel when it is considering their case.
29 Following the issue of a GRC, the record of the holder’s birth is effectively amended to reflect their acquired gender (if the person’s birth was registered in the UK). This is done by means of an entry in the Gender Recognition Register (which is maintained by the Registrars General for the different countries of the UK, separate from the registers of births). A certificate drawn from this Register is indistinguishable from any other birth certificate. As at the end of June 2015, since the GRA came into force (in April 2005): 4,631 GRC applications had been received; 3,999 full GRCs had been issued; 183 interim GRCs had been issued (67% of which have been converted to full GRCs); 193 applications had been declined; and 110 applications had been received which were still pending – Gires, “Gender Recognition Panel”, accessed 4 January 2016; Ministry of Justice, Tribunals and Gender Recognition Certificate Statistics Quarterly, April to June 2015, September 2015.
30 As at 2015, 12 countries in the European Union still require sterilisation as a precondition of legal gender recognition.
31 Q132; Michael Toze (TRA 001); Charlie Attenborough (TRA 068); Peyton Knight (TRA 128); UK Trans Info (TRA 138)
32 The Act also provides for the recognition of an acquired gender which has already been recognised in a legal jurisdiction outside the UK.
33 Michael Toze (TRA 001); Adrienne Macartney (TRA 046); Anonymised (TRA 055); Zac Snape (TRA 089); National Union of Students (TRA 187); LGBT Liberal Democrats (TRA 197); Steph Farnham (TRA 240)
39 Petitions, UK Government and Parliament, “Allow transgender people to self-define their legal gender”, accessed 2 December 2015
41 All petitions on the website which receive 10,000 signatures or more must receive a Government response.
43 Where divorce / dissolution occurs, the marriage is ended but its previous existence is still recognised in law. Where annulment occurs, the marriage is rendered null and void; hence it is treated in law as if it had never existed.
57 Section 1, Gender Recognition Act 2004
58 Qq143–4; Anonymised (TRA 053); Focus: The Identity Trust (TRA 100); LGBT Youth Scotland (TRA 175); Scottish Transgender Alliance (TRA 225); Peter Dunne (TRA 251)
60 Scottish law allows a person to marry from the age of 16 without parental consent. In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, marriage between the ages of 16 and 18 requires parental consent.
62 The NHS Gender Identity Development Service. This service now provides cross-sex hormone treatment to adolescents from the age of 16 – see Chapter Five.
63 The “age of majority” refers to the point at which a child legally becomes an adult and thereby assumes full control over their own person, actions and decisions.
67 Focus: The Identity Trust (TRA 100). In medical law, “Gillick competence” is a principle used to determine whether a child (aged under 16 years) has the ability to consent to his or her own medical treatment without parental permission or knowledge. It stems from a decision by the House of Lords in the case of Gillick v West Norfolk and Wisbech Area Health Authority (1985), which constitutes a binding legal precedent in England and Wales. Separate legislation applies in Northern Ireland, but the Lords’ decision in the Gillick case is likely to be followed by the Northern Ireland Courts. In Scotland, similar provision exists under the Age of Legal Capacity (Scotland) Act 1991.
69 It was suggested to us that it might be so in the context of the Equality Act 2010 – Jane Fae (TRA 121)
70 Equality and Human Rights Commission, Equality Act 2010 Code of Practice: Services, public functions and associations, 2011, para 2.27
71 Gender Identity Research and Education Service, “Gender Recognition Act 2004”, accessed 2 December 2015
72 The Gender Recognition (Disclosure of Information) (England, Wales and Northern Ireland) Order 2005 (SI 2005 No.635)
73 The Queen (on the application of C) v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions  EWHC 2403 (Admin), July 2014. This issue is further discussed in Chapter Six.
76 Section 127 of the Magistrates’ Court Act 1980 states that for all summary offences (which includes offences under Section 22 of the GRA) the information for a prosecution must be laid before the court within six calendar months of the commission of the offence.
77 Press for Change, “The Gender Recognition Act 2004 and s.22 Privacy”
© Parliamentary copyright 2015
Prepared 8 January 2016