Joint Committee On Human Rights Written Evidence

21.Submission from Elizabeth A Bellinger

  I welcome the Bill but it certainly leaves out some very important points for me which I am asking you to put into the Bill. I need my marriage of 2 May 1981 to be retroactively recognised, the same as for that of a man born a physical female will be allowed to have his name and male gender retroactively put on birth certificates of his children. (Clause 8 Parenthood, paragraph 2)

  I was married 2 May 1981. I have used up my time in litigation in the English Courts and each time I was told that it was something to be dealt with by legislation, this is why I am petitioning you to give me the dignity I deserve.

Argument Number 1

  It had been argued in court from the High Court through to the Court of Appeal and then through to the Law Lords in the House of Lords. All Judges agreed that it was not for litigation but for legislation to change my plight. Throughout it was argued by government that when legislation came in it could not be retroactive. This meant that my marriage could never be accepted as I was not able to be "a woman at the material time". That is, I could not have been a woman at the time of my marriage.

  The Government has made a very grave mistake by putting retroactivity into the Draft Gender Recognition Bill. For one section of society yet ignoring another. By doing this it is also ignoring five Law Lords.

Clause 8

Parenthood on page 5 it states

  (2)  But where a person whose gender has become the male gender would be treated as the father of a child by virtue of subsection (3) of section 28 of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990 (c.37) (man to be treated as father of child conceived by reason of treatment services provided for him and a woman together) but for not having been "a man at the material time," that person is to be treated as the father of the child by virtue of that sub section."

  This concerns me greatly. It means that for one section of society it is possible to allow them to be male retroactively for the benefit of having his name put on the birth certificate of children born many years prior to the Bill. However, I am not allowed to be retroactively female for the purpose of my marriage 2 May 1981. It takes away the right of Michael to have had a loving wife since 2 May 1981. Besides my husband Michael, the Bill has ignored the rights of Michael's daughter, whom I gained legal custody of, to have had a mother all these years.

  Failure to correct this error at this stage may make the Bill unworkable or most certainly be seen to favour one section of society over another.

  May I remind the Committee that marriage is hard enough today. It has to be worked at, it does not come naturally. We tell our children that marriage is important, and then our leaders say that 22 years of working at it does not count. What message does that send out to our children of the future?

  May I further argue that in Australia since the re Kevin case? Kevin was allowed to have his marriage recognised in law and also have his name on the birth certificates of his children. Australia has not since turned into Sodom and Gomorrah. Australia is still standing and respected around the world.

Argument Number 2

  You will note in the Draft Recognition Bill's Explanatory Notes I and my case is there for your information, yet I am ignored in the Bill.

  Five Law Lords declared section 11(c) of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 was incompatible with the Human Rights Act 1998. The Bill fails to recognise that the Law Lords all agreed that the UK is in violation of Article 8 and 12 with my right to be married. The Bill has not addressed what I had asked for; my marriage to be retroactive and that the term to decide marriage male and female has not been addressed.

30 July 2003

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