Campaigner wins legal right to challenge UK to demand "genderless" passports

by Lin Taylor | @linnytayls | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Wednesday, 11 October 2017 11:26 GMT

A rainbow flag flies with the Union flag above British Cabinet Offices, marking the first day Britain has allowed same sex marriages, in London March 29, 2014. REUTERS/Neil Hall

Image Caption and Rights Information
If Britain were to issue genderless passports, it would join Australia, New Zealand, Denmark, Germany, Malta, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Ireland and Canada.

(Adds comments from Christie Elan-Cane)

By Lin Taylor

LONDON, Oct 11 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - A campaigner was granted permission on Wednesday to take the British government to the high court as part of a 25-year long fight to have UK passports recognise people who don't identify as male or female.

Christie Elan-Cane, who was born female but identifies as "non-gendered", is pushing for a third option on passports for genderless people, which is usually symbolised by an 'x' on travel documents and birth certificates.

The case was brought before the Royal Courts of Justice on Wednesday and will now proceed to a full hearing, according to London-based law firm Clifford Chance, which has represented Elan-Cane since 2013.

"I couldn't quite believe it," Elan-Christie told the Thomson Reuters Foundation over the phone.

"It's really good news and I'm really pleased, but the work isn't over yet. There's much more work to be done."

It is the first legal challenge against the Home Office's (interior ministry) passport policy, Elan-Christie said.

"We are delighted that the Court has granted permission for a full hearing of this significant public interest case on the fundamentally important issue of the right to respect for individuals' identity," Narind Singh, a partner at Clifford Chance, said in a statement.

"X-passports are a crucial step in the protection of the human rights of this group of individuals."

A Home Office spokesman previously told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in an email "it would be inappropriate to comment on ongoing legal proceedings".

If Britain were to issue genderless passports, it would join Australia, New Zealand, Denmark, Germany, Malta, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Ireland and Canada.

(Reporting by Lin Taylor @linnytayls, Editing by Belinda Goldsmith and Katy Migiro. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters that covers humanitarian issues, conflicts, land and property rights, modern slavery and human trafficking, gender equality, climate change and resilience. Visit http://news.trust.org to see more stories)

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.