Gender Recognition Act penalties

Because of all the Equality Act discussion detail recently, I’ve been thinking about other trans-related legislation. An interesting and not often talked about offence is under section 22 of the Gender Recognition Act 2004 which basically makes it illegal for anyone to “out” someone if they’ve found out by virtue of being an employer or similar. Although it’s a criminal offence, the penalties are quite mild: A “Level 5” fine, which is up to £5,000. As an upper cap, that’s pretty mild given you could quite possibly maliciously destroy someone’s life.

I submitted a batch of Freedom of Information requests to various bodies: In England and Wales, the Crown Prosecution Service, for Scotland the Procurator Fiscal and Public Prosecution Service Northern Ireland.

Firstly, kudos to the Procurator Fiscal in Scotland – I had a reply in 48 hours, well less than the 20 days they need to reply in. That’s amazing and much to their credit.

As to the responses themselves:

…there are no charge codes relating to [the Act], so no cases have been reported relating to this Act… (Procurator Fiscal)

…no cases have been reported to the PPS since the introduction of the legislation… (Public Prosecution Service Northern Ireland)

…No offences under this Act/Section are recorded on the CPS Management Information System… (Crown Prosecution Service)

So it seems that it’s such a pointless offence that not only has nobody ever been convicted, but nobody has even been prosecuted… and there has never been a reported case to consider. Does anyone have a possible case they’d like to try to report?

7 comments

  1. Interesting. Depends what they mean by being “an employer or similar”. The case that popped into my head was David Laws, who was outed by people with information that no-one else had *apart* from his employer, which they then made public… but if there’s any scope for a “public interest” defence I expect that would be that.

    1. The definition from the act is if you obtain the information when you are “a member of the civil service, a constable…holder of any other public office or in connection with the functions of a local or public authority or of a voluntary organisation, as an employer, or prospective employer…in connection with, the conduct of business or the supply of professional services.” From what I understand of the David Laws case, a similar LGB-protection law would have meant he had a case as there is no public interest exception.

      There are a bunch of mostly reasonable exceptions, things like a court ordering you to do so, if you’ve agreed to it, if it’s anonymous statistical data you’re releasing. The only objectionable exception to my mind is if “the person by whom the disclosure is made does not know or believe that a full gender recognition certificate has been issued”, which pretty much means if you suspect your employer knows, you must give them a GRC to get protection.

  2. Maybe my case will be a first then. The Govt recently passed an Act permitting the release of personal info for the purpose of the so-called Digital Changeover. This info went to the BBC and a string of associated companies. I changed my name and gender status 30 years ago and acquired a Gender Recognition Certificate in 2008. In the last 30 years I have changed my name 3 times (twice because of marriage) and my address 6 times. Yesterday my male heterosexual partner (I’m m- to- f,a transwoman) picked up a letter from the mat, addressed in my old name, and gender status. I have to view this as maliciious as it is inconceivable that the Govt depts involved have released across the board, data that is 30 years old. The problem is, where do I start? How DO you identify specific accountable persons in large govt agencies? Hence the lack of cases. However I will report this to police, as there is every chance this onfo will be sold on, and that, in future, when I try to access goods and services from my home address my ID will be questioned. We cannot win.

    1. Wow – that’s a level of idiocy I’d previously thought simply couldn’t happen! Any idea which government department screwed up?

      Sadly, I think I can predict the likely police response but please do keep me posted on how it goes. I would suggest going to the Equality and Human Rights Commission, but they’re reluctant to spend government money going after the government…

  3. Well you have your first one coming up. I have actually 4 cases , one with the Police at present , another 3 to follow instantaneously . Although i think im in London , N Ireland is under same Laws and UK ? so you have your first record of criminal prosecution now

    Tracey xx

    1. Thanks for the information – have the the Crown Prosecution Service said they are going to take it to court? I know cases have been sent to the police in the past but it never seems to get to trial.

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