Biological sex is ‘fundamentally important’ – Rishi Sunak

Rishi Sunak has said biological sex is “fundamentally important” ahead of a parliamentary debate on changes to equality law.

MPs will debate a petition signed by almost 110,000 people calling for the Equality Act to be clarified so the terms “man” and “woman” legally mean biological sex, and not “sex as modified by a Gender Recognition Certificate”.

The petition, which attracted support from Harry Potter author JK Rowling, will be debated in Parliament’s Westminster Hall on Monday.

It will be considered along with a rival petition, which has almost 139,000 signatures, which warned the proposed change would “remove legal protections for trans people, an already marginalised group”.

Asked whether he backed the legal change, Mr Sunak said: “I’ve been very clear that when it comes to matters like this biological sex is fundamentally important.

“I’ve said that multiple times and with regard to the Equalities Act, in particular, the Government has specifically asked for advice from the Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) on this particular topic, and then obviously, we will review that.

“We’ve asked for that advice. And it’s something I’ve spoken about in the past as being important to me, and we’ve asked the Equalities and Human Rights Commission for advice on this particular issue.”

The EHRC has previously concluded that changing the Equality Act to refer to “biological sex” merits further consideration.

The EHRC said that while it found “no straightforward balance”, the change could bring “greater legal clarity” in eight areas, including hospital wards and sport.