Ann Sinnott’s case against the EHRC dismissed

Today was the initial hearing in the crowdfunded case brought by Ann Sinnott against the EHRC – the organisation that is charged with upholding our human rights.

Ann had pointed out that the EHRC was misrepresenting the Equality Act in relation to single-sex provision by advising organisations – rape crisis centres, prisons, hostels, hospital wards – that they could only exclude men who identified as women in ‘exceptional’ cases. In other words, they could not automatically assume it would be legal to offer female-only services.

The judge decided that EHRC were correct; that the law could only be applied in ‘exceptional’ case by case circumstances; that the disadvantage to men who identify as woman not being allowed in to female-only spaces was more significant than the disadvantage to women and girls of losing their single-sex rights. Indeed, he went further, stating that: “there are no grounds to show that the guidance has placed women and girls at a disadvantage.”

His judgment was, in part, based on the EHRC’s extraordinary (and duplicitous) assertion that “post-operative transexuals are indistinguishable from women, hence there should be strong reasons to treat them differently.”

In the words of Kara Dansky of the Women’s Human Rights Campaign:

I have been thinking a lot about compromise and what it might look like in the context of the fight for the rights, privacy, and safety of women and girls. The question I keep arriving at is this: ‘Why on earth should women be required to compromise when it comes to our own humanity?

Why indeed?