Joint Committee On Human Rights Written Evidence

12.Submission from Metropolitan Community Church of Manchester

  On behalf of the Metropolitan Community Church of Manchester I am writing to indicate our broad support for this bill. This reform is long overdue and will be warmly welcomed by our members.

  The Metropolitan Community Church is a Christian Church rooted in and reaching beyond the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered communities. Many of our members are transgendered and we know how difficult the current legal situation is for people with gender dysphoria. The introduction of this bill by the Government helps to rectify injustice and is very good news and long overdue.

  I hope you are aware that many Christians will be supportive of this bill. Some Christian organisations, like the Evangelical Alliance and the Christian Institure, are very good at promulgating their views but they only represent one stream of Christian opinion. There are many churches and groups of Christians who are supportive of any and all moves towards justice and greater social inclusion and cohesion.

  We welcome the bill, we wish it to succeed. The requirements are reasonable and the process sensible and not over demanding. We give it our whole-hearted support, though we have concerns over one area of the bill.

  The Bill, as it stands, insists that if a transgendered person is married they can only get a provisional certificate of gender until such time as they are divorced. We would ask that a clause could be inserted into the Bill to allow married couples, where both consent and one holds an interim gender recognition certificate, to re-register their marriage as a same-sex partnership with existing rights and duties continuing as if there had been no change to the marriage. We understand that the Government does not wish to create a situation where, by default, there is a same sex marriage (though we would also warmly welcome same sex marriage!). In order to reduce hardship and the considerable financial costs of divorce we would ask that a fast track legal way of converting a marriage into a registered civil partnership is introduced. As the rights and responsibilities of marriage seem to be identical to the rights and responsibilities of civil partnership we do not think this would be unduly difficult. It would, however, save transgendered people, and their spouses, much money. We are sure the Government would not want to put asunder those who are and wish to stay joined together. There are also has huge implications for such couples in matters of property; pension rights, tax and inheritance tax with potential hardship.

  We also think it would be very helpful to have a transsexual person on the Gender Recognition Panel, either as a full member or as an assessor. This will help the panel to be aware of their unconscious attitudes and prejudices.

September 2003

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