Campaigner loses legal challenge over gender-neutral passports

A campaigner has lost a legal challenge against the Government over gender-neutral passports.

Court of Appeal judges ruled against Christie Elan-Cane, who brought a challenge relating to “X” (for unspecified) passports.

In a statement after the judgment was handed down, Elan-Cane said the decision was “devastating”.

“It is bad news for everyone who cannot obtain a passport without the requirement imposed by the UK Government that they should collude in their own social invisibility,” the campaigner said.

The appeal centred on the lawfulness of the Government’s current policy on gender-neutral passports and whether this policy breached the right to respect for private life, and the right not to be discriminated against on the basis of gender or sex, under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

The policy is administered by Her Majesty’s Passport Office (HMPO), which is part of the Home Office.

In a ruling on Tuesday, three senior judges dismissed the appeal, which was contested by the Home Office.

Delivering the judgment, Lady Justice King said it was “obvious and indeed beyond argument” that the facts of the case concern Elan-Cane’s private life.

“There can be little more central to a citizen’s private life than gender, whatever that gender may or may not be,” she said in the ruling.

“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 though 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.”

But she went on say that, while this case was limited to the issue of passports, “the driver for change is the broad notion of respect for gender identity”.

Lady Justice King added that she accepted that “the passport issue cannot be reasonably be considered in isolation”.

The court ruled that the HMPO’s current policy did not amount to an unlawful breach of Elan-Cane’s rights under human rights laws.

The case was taken to the Court of Appeal after a judicial review action was dismissed by the High Court in June 2018.

Most Read in World