What We Do
AEA’s purpose is to bring clarity and dispel confusion.
AEA believes that an awareness of equality, diversity and inclusion is essential for all organisations. A reputation of inclusiveness and fairness can make it easier to recruit and retain staff. Diversity can build social capital with stakeholders and clients. Diversity also reflects the wider population.
However, an accurate understanding of legal obligations in regard to the ‘protected characteristics’, as defined in the 2010 Equality Act (EA2010), and an understanding of relevant case law, is imperative.
An inherent potential for a conflict of interests, particularly in applying or not applying the single-sex exception, requires a fair balance between competing rights of protected characteristics. This can be complex.
Unfortunately, many organisations do not have an accurate understanding of EA2010 single-sex exception or protected characteristics. This is largely due to inaccurate guidance on the single-sex exception from official sources, adopted and disseminated by external organisations. See our About page and AEA’s booklet ‘Equality Matters’ for more detail.
As a consequence, the policies and practices of countless organisations contain unlawful elements. For example, here’s an extract from a ‘household-name’ company’s policy [client confidentiality – company name withheld]:
‘Individuals who are making or have made a permanent change to their gender must be permitted to use the toilets and changing rooms designated to their acquired gender. It is a contravention of the Equality Act 2010 to force a trans person to use separate facilities.’
That statement is ultra vires (outside of the law) and thereby unlawful. The organisation is legally exposed. The policy misstates the law in a number of ways.
The EA2010 protected characteristic is ‘Gender reassigned’. The statement doesn’t differentiate between those with a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC) and those without.
Trans people without a GRC remain their birth sex, those with a GRC are legally designated the opposite sex. The assertion: ‘It is a contravention of the Equality Act 2010 to force a trans person to use separate facilities’, is incorrect and unlawful.
EA2010, Schedule 3 para 28, allows for the exclusion of those without a GRC, and also for those with a GRC, provided it is a proportionate means to achieve a legitimate aim.
AEA’s Consultancy and Training will help you understand the law as it applies to your organisation and enable you to fairly balance conflicting rights.