The current law which provides important protections for women and the provision of single-sex spaces and services is the Equality Act 2010. It is reserved with the UK Government, so we need to raise our concerns with MPs, rather than MSPs.
There is widespread confusion about what the Equality Act means in practice, and the very protections designed to keep women safe are often misinterpreted and used against us by businesses and organisations.
We’ve seen schools, prisons, women’s refuges and rape crisis centres, hospitals, leisure centres and retail businesses all put women and girls at risk by forcing us to share private space with fully-intact males who self-identify as female. But, contrary to what many lobby groups would like us to believe – under current law, this does not need to happen.
The UK Government urgently needs to put out clear guidance on the Equality Act, so we can put a stop to this confusion and ensure our spaces are lawfully protected.
This is where you come in!
If you ask your MP to write a letter to a minister they should do it for you, even if they disagree with you. Ask them to add their own support if they do agree.
- Read our briefing notes, these are for you to take to your MP –
SINGLE SEX SPACES: BRIEFING FOR YOUR MP
- Contact your MP and ask for an appointment (please see them in person if possible, this gets better results)
- Explain to your MP why this is important to you – and likely to be important to women in their constituency.
- Ask your MP to write to Elizabeth Truss, Minister for Women, on your behalf.
Tips on meeting your MP
Remember: This is about maintaining our hard-won rights to privacy, dignity and safety. We’re fighting to uphold the law, not to change it.
- Enter your postcode on this page to find your MP’s name and contact details: MPs’ Offices
- Optional: you could find out what your MP’s responsibilities and interests are (from MP’s Offices link above) so you can tailor your approach. e.g. if they like sports, you could read up on the current situation explained by Martina Navratilova; if it’s schools then explain about girls being anxious about using mixed-sex loos.
Check our BRIEFING NOTES to see if any of the examples on it match your MP’s interests..
- If you want to know more, visit They Work for You
Think about this – why is this issue important to YOU, personally?
- Does it touch on your personal or work life? Are your family members affected? Do you have experience through your work, background or life, that means you understand this issue?
- Your MP works for you. And if they understand how this issue affects you, it helps them to be able to say, they are representing you, personally, as their constituent.
Visiting your MP
- You have the right to ask for a meeting to discuss your concerns. You will probably meet your MP in their surgery, which should be local to you.
- You can meet your MP individually but it is good to go in a small group of 2-3 if you can. This shows you are not alone in your concerns and will enable you to cover more issues. It also means you can pick up things if someone else forgets. Decide who will focus on which topic.
- If you can, relate your concerns to the interests and responsibilities the MP has.
What do you want your MP to do?
- Be clear about what you would like them to do. Ask them to write to Elizabeth Truss, Minister for Women, and pass on your concerns.
- Ideally, give them a paper copy of the briefing notes and email it to them as well.
(This guidance on meeting your MP is an abridged version of A Woman’s Place’s excellent page Lobby Your MP)
Notes: The Equality Act is not devolved legislation and the Parliamentary Question answered on 10 Jan 2019 stated “Responsibility for oversight of compliance with the 2010 act, including compliance with the Equality Act 2010 (Specific Duties) (Scotland) Regulations 2012, rests with the Equality and Human Rights Commission. The commission is independent and cannot be directed by the Scottish ministers.”
Furthermore, the EHRC published their “Women’s rights and gender equality in 2018” report on 25 Feb 2019 which stated “There is evidence that practical guidance and other forms of assistance are required to help transwomen, single-sex and separate-sex providers understand and navigate the complexities of sexbased exceptions in the EA 2010, without compromising the service provided to women in difficult and vulnerable situations.”, and “The EHRC recommends that the UK Government should…clarify the operation of exceptions in the Equality Act 2010 that protect single-sex spaces and services.”