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Clifford Chance to appeal court refusal to find UK passport gender policy unlawful

16 November 2018

Clifford Chance to appeal court refusal to find UK passport gender policy unlawful

International law firm Clifford Chance has secured permission from the English Court of Appeal to challenge the High Court's finding that the UK Government's policy to refuse to issue non-gendered passports ('X' passports) is lawful. Leave to appeal was granted on the basis of the general importance of the issues raised in the case to the public interest.

Narind Singh, Partner leading the Clifford Chance team, comments: "This case raises important questions regarding the right to respect for individuals’ identity, and we look forward to working with campaigner Christie Elan-Cane as we appeal the High Court's decision.

"We are proud to have worked alongside Christie's Non-Gendered campaign for many years as it strives to attain recognition for individuals who do not identify as either male or female, including members of the trans community, intersex people and those who identify as non-gendered. Gender identity is a fundamental part of an individual’s intimate, personal identity and X-passports are a crucial step in the protection of the human rights of this group of individuals, who otherwise face an unacceptable choice between forgoing a passport, and making a false declaration, and using a passport which misrepresents their identity".

Previously, Clifford Chance brought a judicial review before the English High Court on behalf of Christie Elan-Cane. The review challenged the lawfulness of Her Majesty's Passport Office's (HMPO) policy requiring an applicant for a UK passport to declare their gender as being either male or female, and allowing for a passport to be issued only identifying the bearer as either male or female, rather than allowing a non-gender specific alternative ('X', for unspecified gender) passport to be issued as permitted by the relevant international standards and other countries worldwide.

While the High Court found, for the first time in the UK, that non-gendered identity was entitled to recognition and protection under international human rights law, it held that the policy was not unlawful as it is within the allowed margin of discretion that national governments can exercise when applying international human rights laws domestically.

The Clifford Chance team is composed of Narind Singh (Partner), Eraldo d'Atri (Senior Associate), Anne Collins (Associate) and Jemima Roe (Associate), who instructed Kate Gallafent QC and Tom Mountford (both of Blackstone Chambers), all acting pro bono.