HL Deb 24 July 2002 vol 638 c76WA
Lord Lester of Herne Hill

asked Her Majesty's Government:

(a) What are the reasons for the continuing delay in introducing legislation to give transsexuals legal recognition and the right to marry in accordance with the European Convention on Human Rights; and (b) whether they will speedily introduce such legislation. [HL5289]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal

The Government recently reconvened the Interdepartmental Working Group on Transsexual People to re-examine the implications of granting full legal status to transsexual people in their acquired gender, and to make recommendations to Ministers before the end of this year. The working group met on 9 July. It has now been tasked additionally with considering urgently the implications of the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights in the cases ofChristine Goodwin v The United Kingdom and I v The United Kingdom.

Reconvening the working group has been necessary as the interests of transsexual people touch on the policy responsibilities of a large number of government departments and the devolved administrations. Responses to the Court's ruling must be carefully co-ordinated.

The Government are obliged, under international law, to implement the judgments and will decide as soon as possible how to do so. The devolved administrations are also considering their approach to these issues where responsibilities are devolved.

Following the ruling, statutes must be interpreted in the light of the ECtHR findings and, where a statute allows, discretion must be exercised differently in any case where the traditional interpretation of exercise of discretion would result in a violation of a transsexual person's convention rights.