UK Government Blocks Scotland’s Gender Reform Bill

The UK Parliament has sparked constitutional controversy by blocking radical gender reforms passed by the Scottish government, with Scottish Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon describing the move as a “head-on attack”.

Scotland became the first country in the UK to support a self-identification process to legally change gender when it passed the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill in December.

The bill would allow anyone over the age of 16 to obtain a self-identification and obtain a new birth certificate through a statutory declaration. This will change the gender record that was registered at birth to the selected gender.

It also simplified the process of changing the gender on a birth certificate without the applicant having to undergo surgery or hormone therapy.

The length of time an applicant must live in the gender they have acquired will also be reduced from two years to three months, and the medical diagnosis and evidence requirement will be removed.

Alistair Jack
Scottish Secretary of State Alistair Jack arrives in Downing Street for the weekly Ministerial Meeting at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London on September 30, 2020. (Leon Neal/Getty Images)

Scottish Secretary Alister Jack said on Monday night that the UK government has issued a Section 35 order barring the bill from obtaining royal consent in its current form, and has asked the Scottish government to consider an amended version of the bill. I am urging you to return it for

This is the first time a British government has asked for such an order. Jack previously said he was concerned that the bill had “safety issues for women and children.”

In a statement, Jack said, “After a thorough and careful consideration of all relevant advice and policy implications, we are concerned that this legislation will adversely affect the operation of equality legislation across the UK.” Stated.

Equality legislation is not a delegated issue and is not decided by the Scottish Parliament. The Scottish Government is a devolved government, meaning that matters of UK or international impact are solely the responsibility of the UK Parliament.

“Transgender people who are going through the legal gender change process deserve our respect, support and understanding. It’s about the consequences of the law,” Jack added.

“We don’t take this decision lightly,” he said.

“This bill will have a major impact on the UK-wide equality issue, especially in Scotland, England and Wales. I have therefore concluded that this is the necessary and correct course of action.”

“If the Scottish Government chooses to bring back the amended Bill for review in the Scottish Parliament, I hope we can work together to find constructive ways to respect both the devolution of powers and the operation of the law in the UK Parliament. ‘ added Jack.

Epoch Times photo
Scottish Soltyre (L) and Allied flags flutter above Stirling Castle in the historic town of Stirling in central Scotland on August 7, 2019. (Andy Buchanan/AFP via Getty Images)

“Full Frontal Attack”

“This is a head-on attack on the democratically elected Scottish Parliament and its ability to make its own decisions on delegated matters,” Sturgeon said on Twitter.

She said the Scottish government “defends the legislation and supports the Scottish Parliament. If this Westminster veto succeeds, it will be the first.”

Holyrood social justice secretary Shona Robison said the UK government’s move to block the bill was “a dark day for transgender rights”.

“It is an outrageous decision to use Section 35 of the Scottish Act to prevent the GRR bill from gaining royal consent,” Robison said.

“This is a procedure that has never been used under nearly 25 years of devolution and runs counter to legislation passed by members of all parties in the Scottish Parliament by a supermajority.

“This is a dark day for trans rights and a dark day for British democracy.

“As the Prime Minister has said, this is a political decision in line with devolution and the UK government’s disrespect for the Scottish Parliament,” she added.

Services for men and women

Critics of the law say the self-identification system could be abused.

Women’s groups and the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women and Girls, Reem Al-Salem, have expressed serious concern that women’s services and private spaces will be subject to abuse.

Writing for the Conservative think tank Policy Exchange on Monday, public law lecturer Michael Foran said the bill would fundamentally change the nature of equality law in Scotland and the UK as a whole.

Foran pointed out there are six ways the Scottish Gender Bill could change the way UK law works.

“Altering the operation of laws on same-sex services, women-only spaces may make it more difficult to exclude biological men,” Foran wrote.

“It would change the operation of the law regarding homosexual groups that cannot discriminate on the basis of gender reassignment in membership registration,” he added.

According to the report, segregated all-girls schools in the UK will be required to accept biologically male students under the bill.

“It would change the law on segregated schools. Current law stipulates that biological males between the ages of 16 and 18 who hold gender recognition certificates cannot be excluded from segregated girls’ schools. It is done,” he said.

“Gender discrimination regarding schools is no exception. This bill gives certain biological males the legal right to enroll in girls’ schools, a right that would otherwise not exist,” he said. Added.

PA Media contributed to this report.

Owen Evans

Owen Evans is a UK-based journalist with a particular interest in civil liberties and free speech, covering stories from a wide variety of countries.