The Conservative Party in the UK has pledged to modify the nation’s 2010 Equality Act to facilitate the exclusion of trans people from single-sex spaces despite the Act already including provisions for such exclusions.

In February 2023, Equalities Minister Kemi Badenoch wrote to the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), which has recently faced criticism for its stance on trans rights, seeking advice on the “benefits or otherwise” of reforming the Equality Act.

In April 2023, the EHRC responded with an open letter advising that altering the definition of sex would “bring greater legal clarity” and improve the means for certain groups to exclude trans individuals.


EHRC Chairwoman Baroness Kishwer Falkner noted: “As things stand, a women’s book club, for instance, may have to admit a trans woman who had obtained a [Gender Recognition Certificate]. On the biological definition, it could restrict membership to biological women.”

The EHRC also mentioned that the disadvantages of such a change could include trans men bringing equal pay claims by comparing their pay to that of cis men and that a trans man could bring sex discrimination claims “as a woman.”

A YouGov poll published on 10 June revealed that 50 per cent of Britons support the Conservative pledge to amend the Equality Act to define sex as “biological sex,” while 23 per cent oppose it, and 27 per cent are unsure.

Support for the pledge varies by age and political affiliation. Among voters aged 65 and over, 63 per cent support the change, compared to 12 per cent who oppose it. Conversely, 18-24-year-olds are more likely to oppose the change, with 43 per cent against and 31 per cent in favour.

Support also differs between political parties: 30 per cent of Labour supporters back the policy, compared to 71 per cent of Conservative voters and 48 per cent of Liberal Democrat voters. Men generally support the change more than women, despite the claim that it aims to protect women’s spaces.

Despite these figures, the policy garners less support than other election pledges. More popular pledges from Labour include using private sector capacity to reduce NHS wait times and creating a publicly owned renewable energy provider. The top three most-supported pledges from the Liberal Democrats include awarding blue flag status to rivers to protect them from sewage discharges (87 per cent support), cutting taxes on children’s toothbrushes and toothpaste (83 per cent support), and providing free school meals for all primary school children in England (74 per cent support).