The government has said it has “no plans” to make non-binary a legally recognised gender identity in the UK.
In a Cabinet Office statement, the government claimed there would be “complex practical consequences for other areas of the law, service provision and public life” if the law were changed to recognise “non-binary” as a gender identity in addition to “male” and “female”.
The petition, created on October 26, read: “By recognising non-binary as a valid gender identity, it would aid in the protection of non-binary individuals against transphobic hate crimes, and would ease gender dysphoria experienced by non-binary people.”
“Everyone has the right to live freely as themselves, and that includes having legal documents which represent who they are,” says Eloise Stonborough, the associate director of policy and research at Stonewall. “It’s deeply disappointing that the government has reiterated that it doesn’t plan to introduce legal recognition for non-binary people.”
Numerous other countries have already found ways to navigate these “complex practical consequences”. In March, Belgium announced plans to make non-binary a legally recognised gender identity, Pink News reports. Germany, Iceland, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Uruguay and most Australian territories already offer legal recognition to non-binary people.
Research has found that non-binary people face higher levels of mental health difficulties and are more likely to have attempted suicide.
In its response to the petition, the government said it has no plans to change the current law as outlined in the Gender Recognition Act 2004 (GRA).
It said: “In UK law individuals are considered to be the sex that is registered on their birth certificate – either male or female. The GRA provides a means for transgender people to change the sex on their birth certificate, but there is currently no provision for those who do not identify as male or female.”