THE UK’s human rights watchdog is under review and faces losing its seat on a United Nations council over its approach to transgender rights.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has come under fire from LGBT charities over its lack of political independence from the Tory Government.

Previously, the EHRC has been accused of “actively harming” transgender people in the UK by Stonewall and others. Concerns were also raised over chair Baroness Kishwer Falkner considering proposals by ministers to change the legal definition of “sex” in the Equality Act.

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And now, after a complaint by Stonewall and 30 other LGBT charities, the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions (GANHRI) has launched a special review of the institution.

The charities claimed that the EHRC was a “failed institution” and its work was “undermining the status of independent human rights institutions and systems”.

Writing in the Telegraph, cross-party peer Falkner said the EHRC was facing an “obstacle” to its accreditation as an A-status human rights organisation due to the challenge.

The EHRC could lose its seat at the UN Human Rights Council and other UN bodies.

The National: Trans rights campaigner

Falkner said she was “disappointed” and claimed charities had “targeted” the EHRC over its advice on the Equality Act.

She wrote: “Our advice on this complex and divisive issue made clear that government should lean towards a biological definition of sex as the fairest way of protecting everyone’s rights, but that it should carefully identify and consider the potential implications of any such change.

“We were saddened to see that Stonewall and other campaigners chose to ‘go low’ with unsubstantiated claims about matters which have little to do with the daily lives of the people or groups who we are there to protect, instead of engaging with us to discuss our proposals to improve the balance of rights and protections.”

She later refuted allegations that the EHRC is “in cahoots” with the UK Government by “seeking to erode the rights of trans people”.

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Stonewall, in a statement after the review was announced, said they had concerns about the EHRC’s approach to trans rights and its political independence “for some time”.

Robbie de Santos, director of external affairs at the LGBT charity, welcomed the review and said Stonewall will “continue to support it with evidence”.

He added: “At its periodic review in October 2022, the EHRC received a number of clear recommendations regarding the independence and effectiveness of its work in respect of the rights of LGBTI people, and their cooperation with LGBTI organisations.

“Within months of receiving these recommendations, they were already demonstrating that they were falling short, which then prompted Stonewall and 30 LGBTQ+ and human rights organisations to provide evidence of their concerns once again to GANHRI.

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“All countries need effective, independent national human rights institutions to promote and protect human rights. With anti-trans hate crime and prejudice rising, and Britain sliding down the international rankings on LGBTQ+ rights, LGBTQ+ people in Great Britain need a more robust and independent human rights watchdog.

“We hope that this special review will give EHRC the scrutiny and recommendations it needs to play the part our communities deserve.”

We told how the EHRC’s plans to change the Equality Act were described as “pure transphobia” by a former legal director of the group.