Can a lack of belief in transgenderism be a “protected belief” under the Equality Act 2010?

26th July 2022 2 min read Lauren Beaumont

Yes, as reiterated by the EAT in the recent case of
Mackereth v Department for Work and Pensions and anor

M (a Christian doctor), was required to undertake disability assessments and use service users’ preferred pronouns. M objected, citing that he did not believe in transgenderism

The Employment Appeal Tribunal has held that M’s lack of belief in transgenderism was a protected belief under the Equality Act, disagreeing with the Employment Tribunal’s earlier decision on this point. 

There has, over recent years, been an expansion in what types of belief are protected under the Equality Act. Part of the test is for the belief to be worthy of respect in a democratic society, not in conflict with the rights of others or incompatible with human dignity. The belief must also attain a certain level of cogency, seriousness, cohesion and importance. Some other examples of recognised beliefs include a belief that mankind is heading towards catastrophic climate change and a belief in animal rights. 

However, even though M’s belief was protected, it was not unlawful belief discrimination for the DWP to require M to use service users’ preferred pronouns when undertaking the above-mentioned assessments.  

The DWP had attempted to accommodate M’s concerns and clarify his position before taking any action against him. The DWP’s aims involved ensuring transgender service users were treated with respect and without discrimination. The Employment Appeal Tribunal said that the DWP’s requirement for M, and others, to use service users’ preferred pronouns was proportionate to those aims. 

If you are an employee or an employer seeking support regarding what could qualify as a protected belief for the purposes of the Equality Act, please get in touch with us here at People Legal. We are experienced in providing employment advice and can provide you with the support you need.

Call us on 0800 368 8470 or arrange a chat at for free initial advice.

Please note the information contained in this briefing is intended as a general review of the subject featured and is not a substitute for obtaining specific legal advice.