Dear friends,

I am writing to you in response to your article about Cambridge City Council’s amendments to its inclusion policy. I wanted to clarify a few points.

Cambridge City Council is, and remains, a council strongly committed to inclusion. Our Single Equalities Policy update, which is available on our website, outlines the many things we do to promote equality, including trans equality. For instance, we are currently piloting the Encompass Network’s LGBTQ+ Safe Spaces Campaign and are proud to do so.

Over the summer, queries were raised about the legality of some aspects of the council’s equality policy. Officers immediately began investigating, and this included taking the advice of independent legal experts. The advice we received was that, in order to comply with the 2010 legislation, we needed to make some clarifications. That is what officers are recommending in their draft proposals, which are being brought to committee for discussion. The advice we have received is that the changes are necessary in order to ensure our policy is legally compliant.

Our legal advice makes it clear that we cannot fetter our discretion by not mentioning the single sex exemption. However, it was equally clear that the exemption is to be applied on an exceptional, case-by-case basis only. Our single-sex provision, including a huge number of events for women, as well as single-sex changing rooms and toilets, has always, rightly, been inclusive to trans people, on a self identification basis. It will remain inclusive. It is distressing and disappointing that the opposition councillors in Cambridge are seeking to politicise this important issue which I believe should be beyond party politics.

On a personal level, I am, and remain, a committed trans ally. I am hugely aware of the desperate need for us to update both the gender recognition act and the equality act. As a supporter of self-ID, I have completed my submission to the GRA consultation, arguing that the current unworkable and unjust processes should be amended.

I hope that I can reassure you of Cambridge Council’s continued commitment to inclusion, as well as my own personal commitment. I am very happy for you to contact me further if you would like any clarification.

With best wishes,

Anna Smith

Executive Councillor for Communities,

Cambridge City Council

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