Trans amendments to the Marriage (Same-sex Couples) Bill


A number of amendments for trans people have been submitted formally in parliament, but unless you’re a legal whiz with some spare time to hand it’s not immediately obvious what they are. So, here’s a quick guide to what the relevant ones do…

Amendment 4 – Prevent voiding of marriages with a trans person

At the moment, a spouse can have a marriage voided (As if it had never happened) by claiming they did not know that their partner had a gender recognition certificate at the time they married, and this amendment removes this. There is no similar provision covering, for example, religion or similar and creates a situation whereby a spouse who does know about their partner’s history later claims ignorance if their partner is not very publicly “out”.

Amendment 5 – Remove spousal veto of legal recognition of gender

Because a marriage would, under the existing system, need to be converted to or from a civil partnership on one partner transitioning, there is a requirement for an interim Gender Recognition Certificate to be issued and the existing partnership be annulled prior to full recognition of legal rights. This was done to prevent a spouse being forcibly re-entered into a new relationship (Civil partnership or Marriage) they didn’t want and could not get out of due to the one-year minimum term before divorce can be applied for in a new relationship.

This is no longer the case, but the bill did not reflect that fully. Instead, it allowed a partner to delay or potentially block someone getting full legal rights in their acquired gender by refusing to give consent, a situation that would also incur additional costs for the trans person by forcing them to use the interim GRC process.

The amendment levels the playing field by only issuing an interim GRC if both parties request it, rather than simply if the spouse refuses consent. (As it stands, it also causes an Interim GRC to be issued in the case of a civil partnership, because the current bill does not allow for mixed-sex civil partnerships)

It takes 2 years post-transition to get a GRC, so an unhappy spouse still has plenty of time to apply for divorce.

Amendment 6 is tidy-up related to amendment 5, removing clauses that are no longer relevant.

Amendment 7 – Restoration of lost marriages

This simply allows marriages that had to be annulled so that someone could get legal recognition to be reinstated as if they had never been broken. If you want to know more, Sarah wrote about this for the Huffington Post.

Amendment 8 – Reissue of marriage and birth certificates

The bill did not make reissue of marriage certificates explicit, but this amendment does. It allow allows birth certificates to be reissued, with consent of all concerned. (The other named parent if the child is under 16, otherwise the child themselves)

There is still more we’d like to get done (Fixing pensions issues and swapping gendered terms like husband/wife for gender-neutral and non-binary terms like partner) but time is limited! Hopefully they’ll get in too eventually.

Of course, tabling amendments doesn’t mean they will pass but it does mean we are well on the way.

Featured on Liberal Democrat VoiceAnd finally, many thanks to Dr Julian Huppert MP for his help getting the amendments tabled.

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  1. #1 by Zoe Brain on 13 February 2013 - 14:25

    While they’re all important… I really hope amendment 7 is adopted. That situation was inhuman.

    • #2 by Zoe O'Connell on 13 February 2013 - 16:15

      The best way of getting it through would be to put Sarah Brown and her wife in front of the committee to discuss just that one amendment.

      Sadly, procedure doesn’t allow us to do that!

  2. #3 by Padmavyuha on 13 February 2013 - 14:30

    Thanks for posting all this, it’s great to have someone trawl through all this on our behalf.
    Just to correct one thing here:
    “It takes 2 years post-transition to get a GRC…”
    This is not the case – it takes 2 years from commencing to live full time “in role” in your target gender (for want of a better term), and that period for many people runs alongside their period of transition, at least to some extent (for some, it doesn’t feel safe to live “in role” until they’ve done some visible transitioning).
    It is not even necessary to have surgery in order to obtain a GRC (though in practice you have to do a lot more proving that you’re living in your target gender, if you don’t have surgery).
    So there’s no expectation to have fully transitioned for 2 years before you are eligible for a GRC.

    • #4 by Zoe O'Connell on 13 February 2013 - 16:16

      Sloppy language on my part – by “transition” I meant going full-time. (In practice the spouse would usually have more than 2 years warning, because the “Hi Honey, I just changed my name by deed poll, surprise!” situation is unlikely to be common)

  3. #5 by Zoe Brain on 13 February 2013 - 14:49

    Well, that’s one hurdle down, one to go.

    I still can’t get a GRC – that requires a formal diagnosis of Transsexuality according to the WHO’s ICD-10 manual. An Intersex condition precludes that.

    I could get one if the Australian Capital Territory recognised my gender, as that’s a “recognised jurisdiction” – but to do that requires that I be born in the ACT. According to the GRA, I can get my UK birth certificate changed if and only if I have my ACT birth certificate instead.

    • #6 by Padmavyuha on 13 February 2013 - 14:54

      Ay yay, that sucks. The whole system still rests on “you’re this or you’re that” when it comes to gender, so it’s still got a long way to go before it reflects reality at all.

    • #7 by Zoe O'Connell on 13 February 2013 - 16:22

      I *think* the fix is easy:

      Page 35, Line 25, after end insert:
      “Intersex conditions
      (1A) Section 2 (Determination of applications): subsection (2)(a), after end insert “or an Intersex condition,”"

      Page 35, Line 31 (Clause 2) delete and replace with
      “(2) Section 3 (evidence)
      (a) Subsection (1)(a), after “gender dysphoria” insert “or Intersex conditions, as appropriate,”
      (b) Subsection (2), after “gender dysphoria” insert “or Intersex conditions, as appropriate,”
      (c) Section 3 (evidence): after subsection (6) insert— ”

      That leaves definition of “intersex condition” up to the Gender Recognition Panel, which may or may not be desiarable of course. (I’m not sure if “intersex condition” is the right term?)

      Trouble is, I lack appropriate contacts within the community to find out if the above is what people want. I don’t want to be in a position where I’m making a complete hash of it and making the situation worse through ignorance and white knighting.

      • #8 by Alex on 13 February 2013 - 17:15

        Or by just replacing the expensive gate keeping system of applying to the GRP with a simple process of informing the GRO that the birth certificate is no longer accurate (and possible never was) and getting it changed. It doesn’t require any medical evidence or evidence of RLE to register the sex of child at birth, therefore why should it require any evidence to correct the record?

        • #9 by Zoe O'Connell on 14 February 2013 - 09:43

          If we’re writing the ideal system from scratch rather than having to live with incremental changes to what we have, why is someone’s gender any business of the state? Once we have same-sex marriage there’s nothing I can think of that requires a record of it. The remaining offences I can think of relate to body parts of the perpetrator/victim (Penis/Vagina/Womb etc) rather than socially recognised gender.

          • #10 by Julian Morrison on 14 February 2013 - 11:32

            I can still see utility for it, not as reality, but as recognition of an endemic social fiction upon which is built a popular form of bigotry, which ought to be illegal; compare “race”.

            But we should make it changeable by deed poll.

  4. #11 by Jessica Key on 14 February 2013 - 07:35

    If the sex was recorded incorrectly at the time of the birth (as opposed to it became incorrect later) then theoretically a correction could be made under existing laws. Only downside is that the correction would be shown as an official note in the margin rather than actually replacing the incorrect details. I wonder if anyone has tried this. https://www.gov.uk/correct-birth-registration/what-corrections-can-be-made

    • #12 by Zoe Brain on 14 February 2013 - 07:59

      That requires testimony of 2 doctors present at the birth.

      Bit of a problem if one was born at home, no-one present but a midwife. That was in 1958, so she’d be getting on a bit now too. No matter, she’s not an MD, let alone two of them.

      Yes, I’ve looked into it.

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