Liberate would like to voice their support for the anti-discrimination legislation, as proposed by ESS.
We urge all Deputies to vote for the proposed legislation in its most generous form and back the amendments brought forward which consolidate its phases, especially with regards to sexuality.
Sexuality is a mostly uncontentious, uncomplicated ground to implement and, as we understand it, there have been no significant objections during the consultation period on this ground. Furthermore, if left until Phase 3, sexuality will be the ONLY ground without any protection for at least 2 years, which in itself is surely discriminatory and thus contradictory to the spirit of what is trying to be achieved. The other grounds in Phase 3 will be afforded limited protection under the The Sex Discrimination (Employment) (Guernsey) Ordinance, 2005.
As we are sure you’ll appreciate, of upmost importance is that this legislation is not delayed. One of our fundamental Human Rights is the right not to be discriminated against, and for a government to provide an effective way for people to remedy discrimination – as set out in articles 7 and 8 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Article 7 also states that ‘all are equal before the law’, which brings us to amendment 6 and updating Guernsey’s birth laws. We again urge members to vote in support of this amendment. Liberate consider the current birth registration process to be discriminatory. This can be evidenced when a female same-sex couple will be treated differently when they register the birth of their child compared to a heterosexual couple, even if their method of conception has been the same i.e. through assisted reproduction using a donor sperm and only one parent has a biological connection. The heterosexual couple can have both parents named on their child’s birth certificate, where the female same-sex couple cannot. This is but one example, in the case of a same-sex couple, however there are many other reasons that this law needs updating to be fit for Guernsey’s modern diverse society. To be clear, we are not asking for same-sex couples to be given special treatment, just to be given the same rights as heterosexual couples in the same situation.
It is worth noting that business groups who initially opposed the law have recently changed their position, to that of support. We hope therefore that opposition from businesses isn’t offered as a reason for delay, further watering down, or rejection of the proposals.
We thank you for taking the time to read this and wholeheartedly hope you vote the legislation through on Wednesday. We would also urge you to back calls for additional funding for an equality body as culture change can only happen if we both legislate and educate.
For and on behalf of Liberate
Ellie Jones (she/her)
Liberate CEO CI Pride Director
We have included some extra information in case the debate asks – Why are campaigners only asking for sexuality to be brought forward and not sex/trans status?
Please note that we are going to use the term gender rather than sex as we believe this causes confusion due to sexuality containing the word sex. It also stops us confusing biological sex with the physical act of having sex.
Many people get sexuality and gender muddled up and we do not want to add to this confusion by having sexuality in the same phase as gender and trans status. We believe it’s important to separate them so that this confusion does not continue.
Sexuality is how you feel towards other people – simply who you fall in love with/who you are attracted to i.e. are you attracted to people of your own gender, of the opposite gender or perhaps you are attracted to people regardless of their sex/gender/trans status?
Gender is how you feel about yourself. For most people this is answered simply with ‘I am male’ or ‘I am female’. For others it is more complex.
Hopefully you can see that we all have a sexuality and we all have a gender and they are two very different grounds for discrimination.
The other reason that we are not pushing for gender and trans status to be brought into an earlier phase is because they already have protection in the workplace under the existing sex discrimination in employment law. We also understand how complicated and potentially costly for businesses the ground of gender is with regards to equal pay for equal work is and we know it will come up against a lot of push back.
We do, however, believe that Guernsey still has a long way to go with regards to understanding the issues that trans people face. As Liberate we do our best to protect this part of our community as they are some of the most discriminated against and vulnerable members of society today. Their existence, and right to live free of discrimination, is still seen as something that is up for debate. Their human rights should not be up for debate. However, as this is still the tone of the conversation, it means Liberate still have a big job to do in Guernsey in helping people understand the issues the trans community face.
We do not want to subject our trans community to the potentially negative, damaging conversation that will ensue if we ask for this discussion to take place now and we believe that it could overshadow the rest of the conversation around discrimination. We do not want trans people used as an excuse to delay this legislation or used as a diversion from the conversation around equal pay for work of equal value. We think a more concise conversation can happen around this at the next phase where we can concentrate on productive conversations around the perceived conflicts.
If you would like to understand a little more about the two sides of the conversation surrounding trans issues we would recommend reading this open letter in response the highly publicised conversation taking place around J K Rowling’s comments on trans people.
In addition, we know some may have been wrongly informed that the charity that penned this letter was in some way under investigation for complaints made against it – you can read more about that here.
Furthermore if you would like learn a little more about how the representation of trans people in film and the media has affected how trans people are viewed please watch the recent documentary on Netflix called Disclosure, it’s a genuinely fascinating insight in to the impact of both positive and negative representation of minority groups.