The Sunak government has threatened to block Scottish gender recognition legislation Transgender | Daily News Byte


Rishi Sunak’s government is threatening to block new legislation that would make Scotland the first part of the UK to introduce a self-identification system for people who want to change gender.

In a significant escalation of tensions surrounding transgender rights in the constitutional arena, Westminster made clear it would consider the “nuclear option” of blocking the bill from going to royal assent, a move that would anger supporters of the changes and nationalists.

The Scottish Government pledged to “vigorously contest” any such intervention.

The First Minister and SNP leader, Nicola Sturgeon, called Sunak and his cabinet “deniers of democracy” after the Supreme Court ruled in October that Holyrood could not legally hold another independence referendum without Westminster’s approval. The verdict has resulted in a surge in voting for independence in recent months.

The Scottish Government welcomed what it called a “historic day for equality” on Thursday afternoon after a vote in which MSPs overwhelmingly backed plans to make it easier and less intrusive for individuals to legally change their gender, and to extend the streamlined system to obtain one. Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC) to 16- and 17-year-olds.

But shortly after the 86-39 vote, which followed three days of intense and sometimes emotional debate at Holyrood, the Scottish Secretary, Alastair Jack, said: “We share the concerns of many people about some aspects of this bill, and particularly for women and children. Security issues.

“We will be watching it closely, and will also look at the implications for the 2010 Equality Act and other UK-wide legislation in the coming weeks – up to and including a section 35 order to stop the bill for royal assent if necessary.”

While gender recognition is a deviant matter, equality legislation – with which the new law will interact – is reserved for Westminster.

Jack’s intervention followed a UK government briefing and poll that the new law would create “legal chaos” and lead to “gender tourism” across England’s borders.

Section 35 of the Scotland Act allows the Scottish Secretary to make an order prohibiting the Presiding Officer of Holyrood from submitting a Bill for Royal Assent if he has reasonable grounds to believe that it would adversely affect the operation of the Act as it applies to reserved matters. .

It is almost certain that such a move will be challenged by the Scottish Government, either through a judicial review or a direct reference to the Supreme Court, leading to another legal battle between the two governments in recent months.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “The Bill passed is within legislative capacity, and is supported by an overwhelming majority with support from all parties. Any attempt by the UK Government to undermine the democratic will of the Scottish Parliament will be vigorously opposed by the Scottish Government.

Westminster government law officers will further study the implications of the bill before any decision is made on the next step, with Jack’s threat to block royal assent not inevitable but very possible.

A UK government source said, “That’s the nuclear option, if you like.” “The ideal, of course, is that we can point out to the Scottish Government all the constitutional issues created by the Bill, and they can amend it before it is fully implemented. But we are looking at all possibilities very seriously.

Immediately after the vote, a spokesperson for the Equality and Human Rights Commission called on the UK Government to provide clarity on whether Scottish GRCs would be recognized in the rest of the UK.

The constitutional dimension will heighten tensions around the bill, which was the biggest SNP backbench revolt in the party’s 15 years in power. In a sign of tension, the debate was interrupted minutes before the final vote by protesters in the public gallery.

Hecklers disrupt passage of Scottish gender recognition bill – video

Nine SNP MSPs voted against their government, including Ash Regan, who resigned in protest at the earlier vote, but the bill passed comfortably with the support of the Scottish Greens, Labor and the Scottish Liberal Democrats. Two Labor members – who were whipped for voting in favor – also rebelled, while three Tories, who were allowed a free vote, supported it.

The bill passed in a special extended session, six years after it was introduced by Sturgeon, a persistent and passionate supporter of change. The Bill follows two of the largest public consultations in the history of the Scottish Parliament.

Proposing the final version of the bill in Parliament, Social Justice Minister Shona Robison stressed that applying for a GRC under the new system would continue to be a “significant and significant legislative process”, with safeguards being strengthened during the bill’s passage. , and she said the bill “does not change public policy … around the provision of single-sex spaces and services”.

She told MSPs: “Trans rights are not in competition with women’s rights and, as so often before, we can improve things for everyone when they act as allies, not opponents.”

But the Scottish Conservatives’ equality spokeswoman, Rachel Hamilton, told Robison that her government had not brought the people of Scotland on board, and that “in the rush to make the process a bit easier for trans people, the government is making it easier. Criminal men attack women.”

During the third phase of the reform process, which lasted for two marathon sessions ending after midnight on Tuesday and Wednesday this week, Holyrood witnessed an unprecedented level of cross-party collaboration as members moved to address concerns about abusive men taking advantage of the new system.

Scottish Trans manager Vic Valentine said the “simple but important” changes would allow trans people to live “with the dignity and recognition that everyone deserves”.

They added: “Today trans people across Scotland will be delighted and relieved that this bill has been passed, after many years of difficult public debate which has often felt like people are talking about us and not about us.”


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