Review planned of gender application form question, West Norfolk Council meeting told

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A review is to be undertaken of whether people should have to state their gender when seeking to access public services in West Norfolk.

The move was outlined after Conservative councillor Patrick Rochford called for the authority’s application forms to be updated during Thursday evening’s meeting.

Groups like the Nonbinary Inclusion Project campaign for greater recognition of people who do not identify themselves as solely male or female.

But Kathy Mellish, cabinet member for human resources, facilities and shared services, said government rules meant that gender was required in order to process benefit claims.

She said: “The forms we use are developed by specific professionals in the field and the forms are there to process claims.

“This is not local to us. This is a guideline we have to comply with from the DWP.

“I can give the undertaking when we review our policy we will look at our forms that do not need to have it in there as a legal requirement.”

Mr Rochford also suggested the section could be left blank to allow respondents to write in the gender they identify themselves as.

Mrs Mellish said that aspect would also be examined.

The exchange took place as the rainbow colours were projected onto the town hall to mark LGBT History Month.

Fellow Conservative Thomas Smith said: “We are currently sat atop the cells that 100 years ago, people like me were put in for who we are.”

Mrs Mellish added: “This is not just a token gesture.”