UK News

Christie Elan-Cane loses legal challenge over gender-neutral passports

Christie Elan-CaneImage copyright PA

A campaigner has lost a legal challenge against the government over gender-neutral passports.

Christie Elan-Cane argued a policy preventing someone from obtaining a passport with an unspecified gender was unlawful on human rights grounds.

But the Court of Appeal ruled the policy did not amount to an unlawful breach of the activist’s human rights.

In a ruling on Tuesday, three senior judges dismissed the appeal, which was contested by the Home Office.

The appeal centred on the lawfulness of the government’s current policy on gender-neutral passports.

At the moment UK passport holders have to indicate whether they are male or female. Several other countries including Canada, Australia and Germany now have a third option.

Christie Elan-Cane wanted passports to have an “X” category, for those who do not identify as fully male nor female.

The activist argued that the UK policy breached the right to respect for private life, and the right not to be discriminated against on the basis of gender or sex, under the European Convention on Human Rights.

‘Driver for change’

Delivering her judgement, Lady Justice King said it was “obvious and indeed beyond argument” that the facts of the case concerned Christie Elan-Cane’s private life.

“There can be little more central to a citizen’s private life than gender, whatever that gender may or may not be,” she said in the ruling.

“No-one has suggested (nor could they) that the appellant has no right to live as a non-binary, or more particularly as a non-gendered, person.”

But she went on say that, while this case was limited to the issue of passports, “the driver for change is the broad notion of respect for gender identity”.

Lady Justice King added that she accepted that “the passport issue cannot be reasonably be considered in isolation”.

The court ruled that the government’s current policy did not amount to an unlawful breach of Christie Elan-Cane’s rights under human rights laws.

The case was taken to the Court of Appeal after a judicial review action was dismissed by the High Court in June 2018.

Christie Elan-Cane was refused permission to appeal to the Supreme Court by the Court of Appeal, but can still appeal directly to the Supreme Court to hear the case.

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