UK highest court rules against gender-neutral passports

Dec 14, 2021, 3:08 PM | Updated: Dec 15, 2021, 5:11 am

LONDON (AP) — A British activist lost a legal challenge at the U.K.’s highest court Wednesday to the government’s policy of not allowing gender-neutral passports.

Christie Elan-Cane brought the case to the Supreme Court, arguing that the requirement for passport applicants to indicate whether they are male or female breaches human rights laws.

Elan-Cane, who has spent years campaigning for legal and social recognition of Britons who identify as non-binary, said there should be an “X” option for applicants who identify as neither strictly female nor male.

A panel of judges unanimously dismissed the appeal, saying the gender of passport applicants is “a biographical detail which can be used to confirm their identity by checking it against the birth, adoption or gender recognition certificates provided and other official records.”

“It is therefore the gender recognized for legal purposes and recorded in those documents which is relevant,” Supreme Court President Robert Reed said.

Reed said no U.K. law recognizes a non-gendered category, and allowing the passport change would leave the government without a coherent approach to the issue.

Some countries, including the United States, Canada and Denmark, issue or plan to allow passports with non-binary gender markers in recognition of the rights of gender non-conforming citizens.

Elan-Cane said the U.K. was “on the wrong side of history,” and the case would be taken to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France.

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UK highest court rules against gender-neutral passports