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Government confirm blocking of gender reform will not be appealed


The bill passed with a huge majority in Holyrood last year. 

The Scottish Government has confirmed it will not appeal a review challenging the UK Government’s use of a Section 35 order to block the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill.

Ministers said the UK Government’s intervention and subsequent judicial ruling means the Bill cannot proceed to Royal Assent and be enacted.

The legislation, brought forward in 2022 and passed with a huge majority in Holyrood, would make it easier for people to change their gender. 

The bill followed a longstanding campaign by LGBTQ+ organisations across Scotland. 

Social Justice Secretary, Shirley-Anne Somerville MSP, said: “The Gender Recognition Reform Bill was passed by a majority of the Scottish Parliament and we will not be withdrawing it.

“However, the UK Government’s unprecedented use of Section 35 means the Bill cannot proceed to Royal Assent.

“If the current UK Government is willing to work together and indicate the changes they would find acceptable we will happily sit down with them. However, it seems that my counterparts at Westminster will not do this, and it remains to be seen what a future government will do.

“We are unwavering in our commitment to supporting and empowering LGBTQI+ people in Scotland. We will continue to work across government towards a society that is equal and fair, and where everyone can live as they are.

“Devolution is fundamentally flawed if the UK Government is able to override the democratic wishes of the Scottish Parliament. We will be ready to challenge its use on future Scottish legislation, and to protect the democratic will of this parliament.”

In a statement on social media, the charity Scottish Trans wrote: “We’re bitterly disappointed to hear that the Scottish Government have decided not to appeal the recent court ruling that the UK Government’s blocking of the GRR Bill was lawful. 

“Most importantly because the Bill would have introduced a fair and simple process for trans men and women to update the sex recorded on their birth certificate – the kind of process that’s in place in more than 30 places all across the world.

“For now, we’re stuck with the intrusive, distressing and difficult process that so many of us have worked so hard over so many years to improve, and that our parliament voted for by a large majority at the end of last year. 

“It is important to remember two things. Firstly, the court did not rule that there was anything wrong with the GRR Bill itself, only that the UK Government has the power to choose to block it. 

“Secondly, the bill is not dead – it will remain stalled for now, but can be reactivated later when the political situation changes.”

LGBT Youth Scotland warned that the decision not to pursue legal action over the recent gender reform ruling in Scotland will lead to further isolation of trans young people.

Young people from the charity’s Trans Rights Youth Commission have expressed their anger and sadness at the Scottish Government’s decision to shelve the Gender Recognition Reform Bill saying “many of us are angry, we feel betrayed, and we feel hurt at the lack of support we are feeling from our governments”.

They added: “We will not stop fighting for our rights and urge our allies and the Scottish Government to continue to stand by us through these difficult times, and to keep working to make this country a better and safer place for the trans community.”

Dr Mhairi Crawford, chief executive of LGBT Youth Scotland, said: “We work with many trans young people who already feel like they are stuck treading water, waiting for access to healthcare or essential documentation, whilst politicians idle and transphobic narratives gather strength - thus preventing trans young people from thriving as their true selves.

“It is important to remember that the GRR bill itself was not challenged and it is not dead. It is merely stalled until the political situation changes, which in time, it will.

“We will continue to work with the Scottish Government, and share and amplify the invaluable lived experience, including frustrations, of the young people we support.  

“We know that acceptance from family and access to healthcare make a tangible difference in improving transgender wellbeing. This bill would have been an important step for young trans people in particular, enabling them to navigate through life without “outing” themselves through mismatched documentation.

“When we work together to ensure that marginalised and underrepresented communities have a voice, it is a massively positive force that sees us all win, as we take another step closer to a fairer more equal society.

“We are glad to hear that the Scottish Government has committed to improving healthcare for trans people, - this is a priority shared by our Trans Rights Youth Commissioners.”

In a statement, Stonewall added: "We’re deeply disappointed that the Scottish Government will not appeal the Court of Session ruling on the UK Government’s unprecedented decision to use Section 35 to block the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill from Royal Assent. This Bill was one of the most debated in the Scottish Parliament’s history and was passed by a resounding majority of MSPs drawn from all major Scottish parties.

"It is important to remember that the Court judgment did not rule that there was anything wrong with the Bill itself but only that the UK Government has the power to block the Bill from becoming law.

"This unfortunately means, for now, trans people in Scotland will not be able to have their gender legally recognised through a process that is in line with an ever growing number of progressive nations like Ireland, Canada and New Zealand.

"We were pleased to hear in the Cabinet Secretary’s statement to Parliament today that reform of the Gender Recognition Act remains Scottish Government policy and that the GRR Bill will not be withdrawn. Stonewall will continue to press all administrations to make progress on LGBTQ+ rights in line with leading international practice."



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Inga Bullen
3 months ago

The GRR was flawed. The Scottish Parliament would not listen to those opposing what was effectively self identification. The difference between sex and gender identity is not fully understood. Sex is immutable, to be able to change this legally creates a fiction. The level of discourse was reduced by trans activist groups to claims of transphobia and bigotry. Trans identifying people can be treated with respect without their demanding to be seen as the opposite sex in all situations. Decades of campaigning for women’s rights should not be wiped out by ill thought through legislation. Confused children should not be encouraged to believe that they were born in the wrong body and demand life limiting medical treatment.