Section 14: Discrimination
77.This gives effect to Schedule 6.
78.Schedule 6 amends the Sex Discrimination Act 1975 and the Sex Discrimination (Northern Ireland) Order 1976 (S.I. 1976/1042 (N.I. 15)). Those enactments, as amended by the Sex Discrimination (Gender Reassignment) Regulations 1999 (S.I. 1999/1102) and Sex Discrimination (Gender Reassignment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1999 (S.R.1999 No.311), already make it unlawful to discriminate against a person in relation to employment and vocational training on the grounds that they intend to undergo, are undergoing or have undergone gender reassignment. The definition of gender reassignment in the Sex Discrimination Act and the Order includes any part of a process undertaken under medical supervision for the purpose of reassigning a person’s sex by changing physiological or other characteristics of sex. A person who has been recognised in the acquired gender under the Gender Recognition Act will therefore necessarily be considered to be undergoing or to have undergone gender reassignment within the meaning of these enactments, and accordingly, discrimination against him or her on this ground will be unlawful. However, this is subject to exceptions based on ‘genuine occupational qualifications’. If, for example, the nature of the job requires a woman, it is open to the employer to show that it is reasonable to treat a male to female transsexual person as being unsuitable for that job. The amendments made by Schedule 6 mean that these exceptions will not be available once a person has been recognised in the acquired gender. They are then, for the purposes of employment, to be treated as being of their acquired gender (that is, of the opposite sex to their birth sex). The exceptions in section 19 of the Sex Discrimination Act 1975 and Article 21 of the Sex Discrimination (Northern Ireland) Order 1976, which exempt discrimination in relation to employment, authorisation or qualification for the purposes of an organised religion where that employment, authorisation or qualification is limited to persons who are not undergoing and have not undergone gender reassignment, are not affected. They continue to apply in relation to people who have been recognised in the acquired gender under this Act.