Civil servants in Northern Ireland are now required to refer to trans and non-binary people by their correct pronouns.
Last year, the civil service re-wrote a policy document which now requires all staff to use the correct pronouns of trans and non-binary employees.
While the document was re-written last year, the decision has only come to public attention now, according to the News Letter.
The news was welcomed by Transgender NI, which told the news outlet that the decision would help to protect trans and non-binary employees from “harassment, intimidation and unsafe working conditions”.
Trans inclusive policy for civil servants in Northern Ireland is an ‘important first step’.
“There is still work to do, such as ensuring management and HR are adequately trained to support trans employees, however this policy is an important first step,” the group said.
“Every individual, regardless of their gender or sexual orientation, deserves to be and feel safe in their place of work.
“These changes are merely in line with existing longstanding law and policy across the UK, and existing case law elsewhere in the UK clearly supports the NI Civil Service’s approach,” they added.
There is still work to do, such as ensuring management and HR are adequately trained to support trans employees, however this policy is an important first step.
The Equality Commission said the decision was in line with the law.
“The rules about equality at work are very much the same for all the equality grounds – you are protected from discrimination on the grounds of your sex (including transgender), age, disability, religious or political belief, race or sexual orientation.
“Regarding the use of language to colleagues, the law protects everyone from harassment at work.”
It didn’t take long for a DUP politician to voice his opposition to the move.
The Equality Commission said that harassment against trans people in the workplace “should be dealt with in the same serious manner as for any member of staff who is being harassed”.
The new policy will apply to 23,000 civil servants in Northern Ireland and has been in place since April 2019.
The groundbreaking move was decried by Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) MLA Mervyn Storey, who insisted that his “Biblical perspective” that there are only two genders is more important than the rights and dignity of trans people.
In a statement to the News Letter, Storey hit out at the “transgender agenda” and suggested civil service officials should have consulted with faith organisations before changing its policy.
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