Kirklees Law Centre wins landmark transgender discrimination case

Friday, March 21st 2014

A transgender woman from Halifax today won her claim of transgender discrimination in the provision of goods and services against a pub which had refused to allow her to use the ladies lavatories and had barred her when she complained.

This is the first time that a case of transgender discrimination in the provision of goods and services has been heard in a British court. It highlights the need for businesses and other service providers to treat all of their customers fairly and equally, and demonstrates that there is legal protection for victims of discrimination.

Susan Brook, has lived as a woman for over 20 years and has undergone gender re-assignment surgery.

On 27th July 2012 she attended the New Inn on Heath Hill Road, Mount Tabor, Halifax. She went to the ladies toilets but was followed in by another lady who told her that she should not use the ladies toilets. She spoke to the landlord of the pub and explained what had happened but he refused to assist. He later barred her from the pub and confirmed that she should not use the ladies toilets and must use the gentleman’s toilets.

On Friday, 7th March 2014, the matter was heard before Judge Miller at Halifax County Court. He found that Susan had been discriminated against and had subsequently been victimised by the pub management. He issued a declaration of discrimination and awarded damages of £1,500.

Susan, who has suffered many instances of discrimination because of her transgender status, was delighted by the decision. She said: “This was not the first or the most serious incident I have experienced, but I had just had enough. This is the first time a court has taken action against transgender discrimination and it sends out a strong message that this must stop. I hope it helps to reduce discrimination not only for me but for all the other transgender people out there.”

“The discrimination I faced, and this was just one example, made me lose confidence and self-esteem and for the last year I have felt unable to go out to pubs in my local area which has severely affected my social life. Hopefully, highlighting cases such as this will help people to realise how destructive discrimination is and start to change attitudes in society.”

The case was brought by Kirklees Law Centre, helped in part by funding from the Legal Aid Agency.

The Law Centre’s Chief Executive, Nick Whittingham, said: “This is another positive step in the development of equalities law and practice. Genuinely reducing discrimination requires a change in social attitudes which will only come gradually, but it has been shown time and time again that the law is a powerful tool for social change and cases such as this really do make a difference both to individuals and to the pace of change in society as a whole.”