Dear Department of Education (Northern Ireland),
RE: Stonewall WEI: research into Private Voluntary Regulation and the SDG.
This is a request under the FOI Act.
Throughout 2021, many public bodies have released info on their Stonewall Workplace Equality Index applications, and feedback from the charity Stonewall. Some replies seem to be long overdue.
In July 2021, Stonewall released a statement stating that "the number of organisations who are part of the [Diversity Champions] programme has grown by 30 in total in the year to 1 June 2021".
This growth in numbers is despite numerous public bodies publishing their WEI applications and feedback, including full disclosures from the Scottish and the Welsh Government's. So, this clearly indicates that there is no threat to Stonewall's commercial interest from transparency by public bodies.
In 2017, Judge Ranzoni pointed out, in his dissenting opinion on an ECHR case, on coercive sterilisation as a pre-condition of legal gender recognition,: “In this regard the judgment highlights the existence of a “trend” towards the abolition of this requirement [sterilization]. I acknowledge that there exists a certain trend in Europe, but it is, as demonstrated above, only recent. Is this sufficient justification for narrowing considerably the margin of appreciation, which is in principle a wide one? I doubt it. Societies are moving only gradually towards abolishing sterilisation as a prerequisite for legal recognition of the gender identity of transgender persons.”
Yet, across the Council of Europe, 22 countries continue to enforce a sterilisation requirement.
This is despite the landmark 2017 opinion, Garcon and Nicot v France, when the Court held that, by conditioning gender recognition on submission to ‘a sterilisation operation or medical treatment creating a high probability of sterilisation’, France had violated the applicants’ right to private life under Art. 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
That context is worth repeating: It was only in 2017 that more than twenty member states of the Council of Europe were obliged to reform their legislation with regard to legal gender recognition, in order to remove the compulsory condition of sterility.
Ranzoni said that there was “an absence of consensus among the member States on this specific aspect”.
He stated that, to the extent that gender recognition rules might obstruct or destabilise a coherent family law system, there would be a compelling justification for circumscribing, or appropriately limiting, those rules. For example, after a huge national debate, the Swedish Parliament passed a law abolishing the sterilisation requirement with effect from 1 July 2013.
On 6 November 2015, a bill to allow transgender people to legally change their gender without the need for sex reassignment surgery and forced sterilisation was approved by the French Senate.
In light of these developments, would you please release:
- Any dates of submissions made to, and any feedback received from, the Stonewall Workplace Equality Index in the three most recent years.
- The complete dates of your membership of any Stonewall schemes, and if you intend to continue membership in the future.
- If your submission was evaluated anonymously by Stonewall, or any communications that indicate otherwise.
Freedom of Information Act 2000
Thank you for your email requesting information regarding Stonewall: Good
Your request was received on the 17/09/2021, NICS HR has advised that they
will be replying to your request on behalf of all the NICS Departments
that contribute to the Stonewall Workplace Equality Index
The leaflet attached tells you about the legislation and the procedures
the Department will follow in handling your request.
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Information Management Team
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Email – [email address]
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