The Government have taken steps to modernise the application process for obtaining a gender recognition certificate and to make applications more affordable. GRC applicants are now required to pay £5 and the newly developed digital application process for GRCs launched on 29 June.
Does the Minister agree that it is important to have a consistent approach to the recognition of overseas countries’ GRC schemes and that, because of the complex interaction with the Equality Act 2010, it is right to recognise the schemes of only those countries that have equivalent approaches?
A consistent approach to GRCs is fundamental to the effective functioning of legislation in this area. The GB-wide Equality Act was carefully drafted in the light of, and to reflect, the specific limits of the UK-wide Gender Recognition Act 2004. It is important, for the effective functioning of the Equality Act, that the recognition of international GRCs is in line with the basic principles of the GRA.
I thank the Minister for his response. Many people in Northern Ireland, and the United Kingdom as a whole, have concerns about gender recognition certificates. Has he had an opportunity to talk to some of those organisations to get their opinion, so that we can draw up a policy that is recognised by everyone?
I recognise that this is an area of considerable concern for some, but it is important that the debate is calm and measured, and absolutely respects the individuals involved. I have many meetings with people from around the country on these specific issues, and we take careful consideration of all the points that are made to ensure that everybody feels confident that the law is in the right place.