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8 July 2021   |    News

UK Supreme Court Case on Gender X Passports

On Monday 12th and Tuesday 13th July, the UK Supreme Court will be hearing the case of

R (on the application of Elan-Cane) (Appellant) v Secretary of State for the Home Department (Respondent)

It will decide whether or not the UK Government policy of requiring all people who apply for a UK passport to declare themselves ‘male’ or ‘female’, and to be recorded this way on their passport, is discriminatory. Christie Elan-Cane, the person who is taking the case against the UK Government, has been campaigning on this for many years. You can read per blog, with details of everything that’s happened so far here: https://elancane.livejournal.com/

Why is the case being heard at the Supreme Court?

The case has already been lost twice: once at the High Court, and once at the Court of Appeal. Each time, permission has been granted to appeal the decision.

If it has already been lost twice does that mean it will be lost again?

Not necessarily. To be granted permission to appeal, you need to have legal grounds to do so. When the case was last heard at the Court of Appeal, the Judge said that the case definitely concerned Christie Elan-Cane’s right to a private and family life, protected by Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. She said:

Moreover, in my judgment it is obvious and indeed beyond argument that the facts of this case concern the Appellant’s private life and engage Article 8. There can be little more central to a citizen’s private life than gender, whatever that gender may or may not be. No-one has suggested (nor could they) that the Appellant has no right to live as a non-binary, or more particularly as a non-gendered, person. Indeed, a gender identity chosen as it has been here, achieved or realised through successive episodes of major surgery and lived through decades of scepticism, indifference and sometimes hostility must be taken to be absolutely central to the person’s private life. It is the distinguishing feature of this Appellant’s private life.

Governments are allowed to interfere with individuals Article 8 rights, but only if there is a good reason to do so:

“1. Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence.

2. There shall be no interference by a public authority with the exercise of this right except such as is in accordance with the law and is necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security, public safety or the economic wellbeing of the country, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.” (echr.coe.int/documents/guide_art_8_eng.pdf)

When will we know the outcome of the case?

It can often take several months from the hearing to a judgement being issued. We may find out at the end of the hearing how long we can expect to wait.

Can I watch the case?

You can watch the case live on Monday 12th July and Tuesday 13th July at: https://www.supremecourt.uk/live/court-01.html

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