Gender identity is a real hot topic at the moment and the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has recently intervened in an upcoming Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) decision, right on point.
The EHRC has published a statement urging the EAT in the Forstater v. CGD Europe case to conclude that a gender-critical belief that one’s sex is an immutable biological status decided at birth is a philosophical belief, capable of protection under the Equality Act 2020 (EA).
This comes following an appeal by Ms Forstater to the EAT after an employment tribunal concluded that her belief that trans women are not women was not a philosophical belief capable of protection under the EA. Ms Forstater was thus unable to claim she had been discriminated against when her contract was not renewed following controversial comments she had made on Twitter about transgender issues.
The EHRC argues that the ET incorrectly combined the question of (1) whether the belief itself is protected; with (2) whether the way in which the belief is manifested is protected. These are clearly two different concepts and, whilst the right to hold a belief is protected, the way in which one chooses to manifest that belief may not be.
It seems logical that, if an individual is protected from being discriminated against for believing that one’s sex may be changed, then the converse must also be true. The EA is designed to protect even the most controversial beliefs, so long as they are not extreme.
The important point to note, however, is that even if this is accepted, this does not mean that individuals have a free rein to express their beliefs in an inappropriate manner for which they may well face repercussions.
We eagerly await the EAT’s decision.