The Government’s current policy on gender-neutral passports is “unlawful” and breaches human rights, leading judges have heard.

Three Court of Appeal judges were urged on Tuesday to rule in favour of campaigner Christie Elan-Cane in the latest round of a legal battle for “X” passports.

Elan-Cane, who has attended the London court for the proceedings, believes the UK’s passport application process, which requires individuals to indicate whether they are male or female, is “inherently discriminatory”.

READ MORE: Gender-neutral passports challenge reaches High Court

Lady Justice King, Lord Justice Irwin and Lord Justice Henderson are considering the case after a judicial review action was dismissed by the High Court last year.

Elan-Cane, who has fought for more than 25 years to achieve legal and social recognition for non-gendered identity, sees the issue of “X” (for unspecified) passports as a key focal point of the non-gendered campaign.

The Court of Appeal challenge, which is being contested by the Home Secretary, centres on the lawfulness of the current policy administered by Her Majesty’s Passport Office (HMP0), which is part of the Home Office.

It is argued that the policy breaches the right to respect for private life, and the right not to be discriminated against on the basis of gender or sex, under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

Kate Gallafent QC, for Elan-Cane, told the judges: “This is an important case in the anxious context of the proper understanding and respect for the intimate, human rights of the affected class – persons whose gender identity is neither, or neither exclusively, male nor female.”

She said: “There is little which is more fundamental and deeply personal than an individual’s gender identity.”

Those affected by the policy “face a choice between the degrading experience of applying for, bearing and using a passport that does not accurately reflect their gender identity, or forgoing the use of a passport at all”.

The QC submitted that “the Government has no present, and no urgent, intention to address the incompatibility between the appellant’s recognised gender identity and the policy, which requires passports to be applied for and issued only in male or female sex/gender designations, which misrepresent the appellant’s fundamental identity”.

Ruling on the case in June last year, a High Court judge said that although he was not at that time satisfied that the policy was unlawful, part of the reasoning for the decision was that a comprehensive review had not been completed.

READ MORE: Failure to permit gender-neutral passports challenged as 'unlawful'

Before the latest round of the litigation, Elan-Cane said in a statement: “Legitimate identity is a fundamental human right but non-gendered people are treated as though we have no rights.

“It is unacceptable that someone who defines as neither male nor female is forced to declare an inappropriate gender in order to obtain a passport.

“The UK Government has consistently and consciously shown a determined unwillingness to accommodate non-gendered people’s legitimate needs.”