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.