Went down to the Equalities and Human Rights Commission this morning for a round table about the Equalities Bill. We spent a lot of time, rightly, on definitions and ensuring that all the bits of the community are covered. I am also very worried about the various exemptions on employment - the single-sex stuff, the changing rooms stuff, the idea that employers can sack trans people if they are worried that continued employment of them might negatively affect their profitability...Why should we accept exclusions that no one would ask of any other group?
I remember back in the 90s, the Department of Employment tried to claw back a lot of the rights won by trans folk at employment tribunals and were successfully resisted by Liberty, the trans community and various unions. Worrying to see some of this crap snuck into an Equalities bill - still, later on, we were talking to Angela Eagle MP and she seemed sympathetic to our concerns.
We'd also gone along to Westminster to hear the select committee on the bill listen to evidence from Stonewall, PFC and other groups. I was worried to hear Ben Summerskill say that the LGB community did not need protection from harrassment by faith groups because there were no cases of it of which he was aware. To which, my response is, not yet...Given that there is not going to be much in the way of further equality legislation once the Tories get in, it seems anject folly not to future proof rights against stuff that almost certainly will happen in five years or a decade's time.
But I can see this won't play in the Daily Mail.
Worryingly, the EHRC were keen on telling us to keep our demands simple and not too ambitious. Given the way that the trans community has been sold down the river over the past few decades, I object to being told to make modest demands that will almost certainly impact the more vulnerable groups within our community.
I oppose all faith exemptions, but I am particularly worried about the ability, at some future point, of faith-group-run schools, hostels and care homes to affect negatively the welfare of trans or LGB children, homeless people and older people. Remember, several victims of anti-trans hate crime were living on the street because faith-group-run hostels had refused to house them unless they reverted to the gender they were assigned at birth.
Multiple vulnerabilities - how do we write that into law as something to be protected?
Ben Summerskill was there, of course, and we button-holed him about the long-promised meeting between Stonewall and the trans community, which is, apparently, going to be on the 23rd. He announced that he would see one and only one delegate each from recognized organizations. Which excludes me, really, since I am not going to steal anyone else's place and don't have an organization to represent. Isn't it typical of Stonewall to be so arrogant as to tell another community whom they are going to be allowed to send for a meeting?