The Government first announced plans for a shared ownership right to buy in October 2019. At the time the sector raised concerns about the impact the plans would have on housing associations ability to borrow. An election and a pandemic later the Government announced, during the CIH Housing Festival last week, the return of the right to shared ownership as part of its Affordable Homes Programme (AHP).
It is important that trustees are aware of the law relating to people who are transgender and those who identify as non-binary so that they can ensure compliance with their legal obligations and operate inclusively.
Here we provide a general guide to charities and trustees so that they can be mindful of these issues.
Who are transgender and non-binary people?
At birth we are assigned a gender based on biological sex. For many of us, we do not question our gender identity but for some people, it is not so simple. If a person is referred to as “transgender” or “non-binary” they do not identify with the gender they were assigned at birth. By way of example, a trans-woman will have been assigned ‘male’ at birth due to her biological sex but she identifies as a woman. A person that identifies as non-binary identifies as neither male nor female.
Equality Act 2010 (“the 2010 Act”)
Under the 2010 Act, the general principle is that you must not discriminate against a person based on a protected characteristic. These include sex and gender reassignment.
Gender reassignment is defined as a person who is undergoing, proposing to undergo or has undergone a process (or part of a process) to reassign their sex by changing physiological or other attributes. This means that the 2010 Act protects people from discrimination at any stage of their journey to change their gender right from the point of their initial declaration that they would like to identify and start living as another gender. The person concerned does not need to be in the surgical process of gender reassignment or having hormonal therapy with endorsement from a medical professional in order to have warranted this protection.
In contrast, the Gender Recognition Act 2004 provides that a person must have satisfied the following conditions for legal recognition as assigning their gender (known as a Gender Recognition Certificate):
- is at least 18 years old;
- has lived fully for two years in their acquired gender and intends to do so permanently;
- has gender dysmorphia; and
- has obtained two medical reports from both a GP and a gender specialist confirming their diagnosis and detailing any transition-related medical treatment.
A summary of the various issues that your charity should be mindful of is:
- if you are restricting benefits to persons who share a protected characteristic, check that your charity’s governing document permits the restriction and that this accurately reflects the charity’s current work;
- consider if it is appropriate/permissible to restrict services or membership of your charity because of a protected characteristic;
- if your charity’s objects restrict it to working with men or women, be careful how you define these terms and who you do/do not provide services to;
- ensure that the duty of care owed to beneficiaries/service users is appropriately followed including giving due consideration about communal accommodation/facilities;
- review safeguarding policies to check gender references; and
- ensure data privacy of transgender beneficiaries, employees and volunteers.
This is a complex and developing area of law. If your charity is wrestling with any of these issues we would advise that you take appropriate legal advice.
For more information
If you have any queries regarding the employment of transgender or non-binary people, please speak to Matt Wort.
Two final pieces of the possession jigsaw have been published on 15 September 2020. Mr Justice Knowles’ working group on possession proceedings has issued its guidance on the “overall arrangements” for possession proceedings.
One change proposed by the Building Safety Bill is the introduction of a duty holder regime, which will see statutory responsibility for the safety of higher risk buildings placed on key individuals
Throughout this pandemic, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has been publishing various “Statements on Coronavirus” (Statements) which provide guidance on consumer rights during this time.
A recent increase in COVID-19 cases in the UK means new measures are being put in place in an effort to reduce the risk of a second wave. Whilst the impact of COVID-19 continues to be felt, it is important to remain focused on the sector’s road to recovery.
Sometimes half an hour at a conference gives you the reality that has been staring you in the face all along. That was my experience watching “Change is on the Horizon”
Following our recent e-briefing on Possession Notices, Helen Tucker and Emilie Pownall from our housing litigation team discuss the impact of the changes on social landlords.
Not only has the possession stay been extended until 20 September, the notice periods to be given to tenants has been extended in certain circumstances with some important exceptions.
The Court has confirmed that a party cannot withhold its consent in order to re-write the original bargain.
Following the Grenfell Tower tragedy, building safety continues to be a key concern for social housing providers and their residents.
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