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Tuesday, October 20, 1998 Published at 10:41 GMT 11:41 UK

UK Politics

MP praises 'The Street'

Campaigning for a change in the law: Lynne Jones

An MP has issued praise for TV soap Coronation Street for its portrayal of a transsexual factory worker, Hayley Patterson.

Dr Lynne Jones has put out an early day motion congratulating the scriptwriters, actors and producers for their "sensitive and realistic" portrayal.

Dr Jones, Labour MP for Birmingham Selly Oak, is calling on the government to give people who have had a sex change the legal right to marry.

The MP has been a campaigner on the issue since taking up the case of a transsexual constituent shortly after she was elected in 1992.

In the parliamentary motion, she praises programme makers Granada for consulting interest groups about the problems and prejudice involved.

She also congratulates actress Julie Hesmondhalgh, who plays Hayley, for making an effort to discover what it is like to be transsexual.

Hope for change

Dr Jones told BBC News Online that she believed a change in the law would come about in time.

"There is a lot of scientific evidence that this is a medical condition to do with brain development.

"A number of MPs have been supportive of the cause. I'm trying to get ministers on a cross-departmental level involved.

"I've spoken to ministers and there is a lot of support but at this stage, a lot of ministers haven't got to grips with the issue.

"But there is sympathy and I feel optimistic that in the long term we will see change".

Dr Jones hopes the government "will soon see fit to guarantee transsexual people full civil rights, including the right to correct birth certificates and enter into marriage, so that Hayley and Roy [characters in the soap] will, like any other couple, be entitled to make a state-recognised, life-long commitment to one another if they so wish."

In the programme, Hayley's boyfriend Roy proposed to her - but she had to tell him marriage would be illegal because she has undergone a sex change.

Dr Jones said the prejudice which Hayley faces is typical of the experiences of people in her position.

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