The House of Lords has handed down its decision in A v Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police.
In 1998, the Chief Constable of West Yorkshire rejected Ms A's application to become a constable in the West Yorkshire Police on the ground that, as a male-to-female trenssaxual, she could not perform the full searching duties required of a police constable. The issue was whether he thereby discriminated against her unlawfully in breach of the Sex Discrimination Act 1975
The Chief Constable admitted that the refusal was prima facie discriminatory, but defended the claim on the basis that being able to search is a genuine occupational qualification.
The House of Lords held that gender was not a genuine occupational qualification. Men could perform searching duties, and so could women. To put it another way, it was not a genuine occupational qualification that somebody needed to be either a man or a woman to undertake searching duties - both male and female officers undertook searching duties. The genuine occupational requirement defence was not drafted to cover gender reassignment, and this case did not fall within the exception.
Note that this is an enormous oversimplification of a very complex judgment Moreover, the case is now largely of historic interest only, due to the subsequent implementation of the Sex Discrimination (Gender Reassignment) Regulations 1999.
Thursday, 6 May 2004
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