10 Key Legal Implications of the Sex Matters Judgment
- Gender critical beliefs are a protected characteristic under the Equality Act – that is the belief that sex is important, immutable and binary. People who hold gender critical beliefs are protected from discrimination.
2. This means people are protected against both discrimination and harassment for holding or expressing the belief – it is unlawful to create an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for gender critical staff or customers.
3. Gender identity beliefs are also protected. A person may not be discriminated against because they believe in gender identity theory, or because they do not share that belief.
4. Sex is binary and immutable – male and female – as a matter of UK law (subject to certain specified exceptions).
5. The phrase “for all purposes” at §9 the Gender Recognition Act 2004 means “for all legal purposes”. It does not compel people to believe something they do not, disregard what she considers to be a material reality, namely that sex is immutable.
6. Holding and expressing gender critical beliefs does not by necessity constitute harassment. This includes referring to an individual’s sex (so called “misgendering”) where it is necessary and relevant to do so. A person cannot harass another simply by holding a belief, without doing something more.
7. A person with a protected philosophical belief is not exempt from the law of harassment – where they commit unlawful harassment against an individual, the harasser’s belief is not a defence to any legal sanction they may face.
8. There is a low bar for the protection of beliefs under the Equality Act – The process for determining whether a belief is protected under s.10 Equality Act 2010 is clarified and ought now to be simplified.
9. This judgment reaches across society – It is is not a judgment restricted to work relationships: it applies to all situations covered by the Equality Act, including Education and the provisions of goods and services.
10. This judgment reaches across borders – Although the judgment is not binding authority across all European Convention states, the reliance on the Convention provides persuasive authority.