Statement on the UK Government’s decision to block Scotland’s Gender Recognition Reform Bill
We are saddened that the Prime Minister has decided to block the implementation of the Scottish Gender Recognition Reform Bill, through an order under Section 35 of the Scotland Act, for the first time in the history of devolution.
This is a piece of legislation that simply seeks to make the process for legally recognising a trans man or trans women’s gender more respectful and straightforward.
Scotland’s Bill aligns it with leading international practice endorsed by the United Nations and adopted by 30 countries, including Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland and most of the United States of America.
Trans people make up only 0.5% of our population, and trans men and women who can benefit from the Gender Recognition Reform Bill are only 0.2%.
Trans people are at high risk of experiencing hate crime. They wait years and years to get a first appointment with healthcare specialists that can support their transition. Trans children are bullied in our schools. Trans adults are bullied in their workplaces.
The UK Government should be focused on developing and implementing a strategy that improves the lives of all LGBTQ+ people, including trans people, not causing them more harm.
Despite being a small population, trans people live in every community in the UK. They are our classmates, our colleagues, our friends and our family. Yet today's decision by the Prime Minister’s treats trans people as a threat to be contained, not citizens to be respected.
Twenty years on from the repeal of Section 28, the Prime Minister will re-toxify his party’s brand by repeating historic mistakes for LGBTQ+ people. This is out of step with the inclusive values of modern Britain.
The Gender Recognition Reform Bill was passed by a decisive majority of MSPs, after having received more extensive scrutiny than any other legislation in the Scottish Parliament’s history.
It does not interact with Equality Act – clarified by successful amendments from a Scottish Labour MSP; and it contains more safeguards than the UK Gender Recognition Act – thanks to successful amendments by a Scottish Conservative MSP.
The concerns cited by the Prime Minister have been addressed by Scottish politicians from across the parties.
This is the nuclear option. It is the only time that Section 35 of the Scotland Act has been used since 1998, in an unprecedented move which significantly undermines the devolution settlement and will unlock constitutional and diplomatic strife.
This is now a constitutional matter between the UK Government and the Scottish Government. It is a matter of grave and profound regret that the Prime Minister has allowed trans people’s lives to be used as a political football.
This is not governing with compassion. These are not the actions of a government that can stand on the international stage as a credible defender of LGBTQ+ rights. We hope that the legal process concludes swiftly, and that governments of the UK focus their attention on positive strategies that support LGBTQ+ communities to thrive.