The United Kingdom’s Supreme Court has rejected an appeal to introduce gender-neutral passports in what is a disappointing ruling for queer activists.
Presented to officials in July 2021, this was the first-ever trans civil rights case to be heard by the UK’s highest court, AFP reports.
The case was brought by non-gendered activist, Christie Elan-Cane, who does not identify as either male or female. She argued that Britain’s passport application process was “inherently discriminatory.”
She stated that individuals only have a choice of “male” or “female” on the application, with no option to put “X” for “unspecified”, an alternative introduced in several other countries.
But the Supreme Court unanimously dismissed the appeal, ruling that a person’s identity could be confirmed using the form and checking it against other official documents.
That included birth, adoption, or gender recognition certificates, said judge Robert Reed in the ruling.
“It is, therefore, gender recognized for legal purposes and recorded in those documents which are relevant,” he added.
The case was brought on the grounds that the government breached legal rights to private life and not to face gender or sex discrimination.
The judges, though, said the lack of a gender-neutral option “does not unjustifiably breach articles 8 and 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights.”
Elan-Cane, who has campaigned on the issue for 25 years, had earlier lost cases in lower courts.
The activist, who uses the pronouns “per/per/perself”, said the government and courts were “on the wrong side of history.”
“This is not the end,” the campaigner wrote on Twitter, promising to take the case to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.
Gender-neutral passports have come into effect in Australia, Austria, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Iceland, India, Malta, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Nepal, Pakistan, Uruguay, and the United States, and comply with the UN International Civil Aviation Organisation’s accepted standards for Machine Readable Travel Documents.
While the UK’s Supreme Court has rejected to introduce them for British citizens, the nation does recognize gender-neutral passports issued in other countries.