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Tories vow to make ‘biological sex’ protected characteristic under Equality Act

The Tories would change equality laws to protect “biological sex” rather than gender to tighten up rules for women-only spaces.

Under the current Equality Act, protections covering single-sex spaces do not differentiate between someone born female from someone who is transgender.

But the Conservative Party has promised to change existing laws to ensure the protections apply specifically to biological sex.

This would, in practice, mean a transgender female would not have the same sex-based protections as someone born a woman.

The party said it would “make it simpler for service providers for women and girls” ’such as domestic violence shelters “to prevent biological males from taking part”.

It could bar transgender women from taking part in women’s sport, or entering toilets for women.

The party said the Equality Act had “not kept pace with evolving interpretations and is not sufficiently clear on when it means sex and when it means gender”.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission previously told Equalities Minister Kemi Badenoch that defining sex as “biological sex” in the law would offer greater legal clarity.

It would mean that transgender people, including those with a gender recognition certificate, would essentially be treated as their assigned gender under the equality laws.

The party said the law change would not remove the existing protections for transgender people.

But the policy is likely to be met by opposition by groups representing transgender communities.

The Tories also said they would want take laws around gender recognition into central government and away from devolved nations.

The change “will mean that an individual can only have one sex in the eyes of the law in the United Kingdom,” the party said.

It comes after the Westminster government criticised the Scottish government’s approach to transgender rights.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said: “The safety of women and girls is too important to allow the current confusion around definitions of sex and gender to persist.”

He said the change would “enhance protections in a way that respects the privacy and dignity of everyone in society” and argues he was “taking an evidence-led approach to this issue so we can continue to build a secure future for everyone across the whole country”.

Ms Badenoch said: “Whether it is rapists being housed in women’s prisons, or instances of men playing in women’s sports where they have an unfair advantage, it is clear that public authorities and regulatory bodies are confused about what the law says on sex and gender and when to act – often for fear of being accused of transphobia, or not being inclusive.”

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