The Feminist Gender Equality Network (FGEN) are very proud to stand alongside 23 other leading LGBTQIA+, trans-forward and human rights organisations, as part of a coalition led by Stonewall and supported by the Good Law Project, who have been brought together by our shared sense of outrage at how the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) is failing in its core responsibilities.
Stonewall’s letter that we put our signature to can be found here
The EHRC was set up in 2007 to oversee, safeguard, assess and enforce equality and human rights in Great Britain. To do this, they need to be an entirely independent organisation, and the United Nations have set standards to ensure that National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) like the EHRC are functioning within appropriate boundaries. These standards are known as the ‘Paris Principles’, and they set a minimum level of competency and regulation required to take part in UN activity at a global level. NHRIs must obtain the highest, grade ‘A’ status to be able to participate in the UN Human Rights Council, and this is the standard we have previously consistently achieved, as we should expect.
It is a shameful situation to have recently felt compelled to raise concerns about the EHRC to our own government. Now, as further evidence of mismanagement and collusion at the highest levels of the EHRC has continued to come to light, we have no choice but to take this further. In collaboration with Stonewall and many organisations representing groups singled out for the worst treatment by the EHRC, we are one of the signatories presenting evidence of this unacceptable behaviour to the UN and to the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions (GANRHI). In this letter, we are calling for a Special Review of the ‘A’ status of the EHRC as Great Britain’s National Human Rights Institution.
We believe that the EHRC is no longer fit for purpose, and call for an urgent investigation into its practices, management and recent actions. Today, two former directors of the EHRC have come forward to condemn its recent actions, in an unexpectedly unambiguous and direct backing for the action led by Stonewall.
With clear evidence of a total lack of financial independence, repeated political appointments, and government interference and influence over policy decisions, the EHRC has become a mockery of its purpose. In particular, the recent calls for delays to Gender Recognition Act in Scotland and the removal of trans people from legislation to ban conversion therapy have made clear that there is a culture of anti-trans activity at the EHRC. This cannot be allowed to continue unchallenged.
The recently passed Council of Europe Resolution 2417 singled out both the UK’s poor record on protecting trans rights and the growth of “gender-critical and anti-trans narratives which reduce the fight for the equality of LGBTI people”. It is deplorable that our nation, once known for tolerance and acceptance, is now ‘Terf Island’ in the eyes of the world.
Now, more than ever, the trans, non-binary and gender non-conforming communities need their rights to be prioritised, promoted and protected. Many of us know that bigotry will never stop at just one group. It feeds and it grows. This is why the LGBTQIA+ community stand strongly together. We all know what prejudice looks like. As feminists too, at FGEN, we know what it’s like to have your rights and bodily autonomy under threat. This is the time to come together, and say ‘Enough’. We deserve an Equality and Human Rights Commission that can do its job, free from political influence and discrimination.
We deserve better. Trans people deserve to live their lives without fear. It shouldn’t be too much to ask.
Equality is for everyone. Human Rights include all of humanity. Trans Rights are Human Rights,