I’m concerned about LGBTQ+ rights – what will Labour do for trans rights?

Labour’s relationship with LGBTQ+ Britons has grown increasingly shaky in recent years (Picture: Getty Images)

In its manifesto, Labour pledged to ‘change Britain’ – LGBTQ+ rights included – if it won the General Election.

And while there is the odd seat left to count, it seems Labour has achieved just that, winning more than 410 of the 650 seats up for grabs.

Labour has been the architect of several major bills extending LGBTQ+ rights.

But what exactly will a Labour government mean for LGBTQ+ Britons?

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What will Starmer’s government do for LGBTQ+ rights?

Support extending the conversion therapy ban to include gender identity

Update gender recognition law

Oppose ‘self-ID’ for trans people

Support NHS reforms banning trans people from single-sex hospital wards

Will not block sports bodies from excluding trans women from womens’ competitions

Labour will inherit a Britain where conversion therapy – the futile attempt to change someone’s gender identity or sexuality – remains legal.

Gender-affirming healthcare remains riddled by years-long waiting lists, while what options are available for trans youth has been limited. Hate crimes, especially ones motivated by transphobia, have sky-rocketed.

The way trans people are discussed by – and legislated against – politicians is one reason why the UK has plummeted down the rankings of LGBTQ-friendly countries in the past decade.

And in his final BBC election debate, Starmer accused outgoing prime minister Rishi Sunak of using trans rights as a ‘political football to divide people’.

A ‘full, trans-inclusive conversion therapy ban’

One proposal backed by Labour leader Keir Starmer is to introduce a ‘full, trans-inclusive, ban on all forms of conversion therapy’.

Theresa May promised Britain’s LGBTQ+ community her government would ban the practice in June 2018.

Which LGBTQ+ bills have Labour passed?

The repeal of Section 28, and introduction of the Civil Partnerships and Gender Recognition Act passed under Tony Blair, as well as the Equality Act 2010 under Gordon Brown.

The party also supported the introduction of same-sex marriage passed by the Tory-Lib Dem coalition in 2013, with more Labour MPs helping to pass the bill than both ruling parties put together.

Yet the plan was repeatedly kicked into the long grass, during which officials claimed banning conversion therapy practices related to gender identity was complex.

It was also shot with loopholes for exemptions in certain circumstances, critics said, such as faith-based conversion therapy. (Think ‘praying the gay away’ or even exorcism.)

It’s not yet clear exactly how Labour would handle things differently.

A ‘modernised’ gender recognition process – but no ‘self-ID’ for trans people

Starmer has also said the Gender Recognition Act (GRA), which allows trans people to legally change gender, needs to be updated.

At the moment, the law sees trans people having to ‘prove’ they have lived in their ‘acquired gender’ for two years. Two medical reports – one of which has to be from an approved list of practitioners – are needed on top of a £5 fee.

But Labour doesn’t intend to introduce ‘self-ID’, which allows trans people to self-determine their gender without the need for a psychiatric diagnosis. This is what Scotland attempted to pass last year, only to be blocked by Westminster.

Shadow women and equalities minister Anneliese Dodds has said this will also not include allowing people to legally change gender without a ‘medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria’.

However, she said Labour will ‘modernise, simplify and reform’ the process to remove ‘intrusive, outdated and humiliating’ requirements.

‘Biological women’s spaces need to be protected’

The lives of the some 262,000 trans people in Britain have been heavily debated by politicians, journalists and public figures alike in recent years.

Much of this discussion, widely considered toxic by LGBTQ+ campaigners and experts, has seen people choose whether the word ‘gender’ or ‘sex’ is better when it comes to discussing trans and women’s rights.

Some people may use the phrase ‘biological women’ to describe cisgender women, or those whose gender identity matches the sex they were assigned at birth.

And this was Starmer’s way of putting it in an interview with The Times earlier this week. He said trans women do not have the right to use women-only spaces – even if they have legally changed gender.

‘They don’t have that right. They shouldn’t. That’s why I’ve always said biological women’s spaces need to be protected,’ Starmer told The Times earlier this week.

When a trans person legally changes their gender, they gain a gender recognition certificate (GRC). This paperwork is needed for a trans person to have the correct gender marker on their documents, such as birth and death certificates.

Labour opposes letting trans people change gender without a medical diagnosis (Picture: Getty)

But Starmer said that even if a trans woman has transitioned and has her papers in order, she shouldn’t be able to use single-sex spaces.

Such spaces include public toilets, changing rooms, prison cells and hospital wards, which are protected by the bedrock of equality law in the UK, the Equality Act.

The Equality Act considers regards gender reassignment a protected characteristic.

This matched up with Labour’s manifesto, which says the party is, ‘proud of our Equality Act and the rights and protections it affords women, we will continue to support the implementation of its single-sex exceptions’.

As the debate over the lives of trans people grows increasingly toxic, Starmer suggested in June that he would ban trans women from single-sex hospital wards.

Some campaigners have accused Keir Starmer of backtracking on trans issues (Picture: AFP)

‘It’s actually NHS policy for wards to be single-sex and the only reason that isn’t routinely the case now is because the Government’s lost control of our hospitals, but that is the policy and we want to reinforce and to protect that,’ he told LBC.

Not quite. Current guidance says of hospital wards: ‘This guidance clearly states that trans and non-binary people should be accommodated in line with their stated gender identity.’ It adds this is not reliant on a GRC – although NHS guidance

Starmer has also suggested that Labour will not stop sports organisations from banning trans women from competing, nor will it force competitions to exclude them.

He told The Telegraph in March: ‘The important thing is that sports governing bodies take a lead on this. And they are doing that, and we’re supportive of what they’re doing, particularly in elite sport.’

‘That’s where the decision should be taken, and, in the end, common sense has to prevail in terms of safety and integrity of sport.’

Our analysis

Pride doesn’t come cheap — the hidden financial cost of being LGBTQ+

The UK was once the most LGBTQ-friendly place in Europe – now we’re far from it

Scotland’s hate crime law explained as new rule now in force

Around 1.5 million LGBTQ+ people (3.2%) live in the UK, according to the Office for National Statistics

Real voices

I’ve left Labour and won’t return until they kick out transphobes

Kemi Badenoch, I’d rather die than be on a male hospital ward

I felt hopeful after my GP referred me. Four years on, I’m still waiting to be seen

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