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Is it a philosophical belief that a human being cannot change their biological sex for the purpose of the Equality Act 2010?


In the recent case of Forstater v CGD Europe & ors, the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) found that the holding of the view that a human being cannot change their biological sex was capable of amounting to a ‘philosophical belief’ for the purpose of the Equality Act 2010.

Ms Forstater, the claimant, worked for CGD. Towards the end of 2018 Ms Forstater engaged in an online discussion about the Gender Recognition Act and complaints that her tweets were ‘transphobic’ were made to CGD.  Ms Forstater’s contract was due for renewal and CGD failed to renew her contract.  Ms Forstater proceeded with a claim in the Employment Tribunal on the grounds of discrimination based on her philosophical belief.   

The Employment Tribunal found that Ms Forstater’s belief that a human being cannot change their biological sex was “misgendering” and was not a protected belief under section 10 of the Equality Act 2010.  The Judge stated that Ms Forstater’s belief was incompatible with the fundamental rights of others and with human dignity.

Ms Forstater appealed the decision.  The EAT allowed the appeal and stated that Ms Forstater’s belief is consistent with the law and widely shared by others.  The EAT stated it was wrong to state that Ms Forstater’s belief would always ‘misgender’ transgender people despite their circumstances and stated that her position was more subtle than that.

However the EAT did state that any existing protections for people with protected characteristics regarding gender reassignment were not being undermined in any way under the Equality Act 2010 and the EAT was not expressing a view on either side of the ‘transgender debate’. 


For advice on this, or any other employment matter, contact the employment team on 01905 723 561 or email: Guy.salter@smesolicitors.co.uk or Sonia.ali@smesolicitors.co.uk

Added: 05 Jul 2021 13:24


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