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LGBT charity hits out at Tory ministers “interference” in Gender Reform Bill

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Stonewall has warned the UK Government that blocking the bill would undermine the government’s standing. 

A leading Scottish LGBT charity has hit out at the UK Govenrment over claims it is planning to interfere in the implementation of new Scottish gender reform legislation. 

Stonewall Scotland’s leadership has said any attempts to block the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill from being given Royal Assent would undermine Westminster’s relationship with the Scottish Government and impact the UK’s international standing. 

Scotland Secretary Alister Jack and equalities minister Kemi Badenoch are reported to have received legal advice on the issue, with a final report to be taken to Rishi Sunak’s cabinet. 

On Sunday, the UK Government’s social care minister told Sky News that she had “concerns” about the legislation and refused to rule out ministers blocking the bill. 

However, Nancy Kelley, Stonewall chief executive, and Colin Macfarlane, director of nations at the charity, have hit out at the government, pointing to an “overwhelming mandate” for the legislation in Scotland.

They said: “The Scottish Government had an overwhelming mandate to reform the Gender Recognition Act. The reforms are one of the most consulted on in the Scottish Parliament’s history, and the new law was passed by a resounding cross-party majority, with support from MSPs in all parties.

“The Bill has been subject to extensive, appropriate scrutiny that has closely considered safeguards and interaction with UK-wide legislation, with almost 150 amendments debated and voted on.

“In May this year, the Scottish Parliament’s Equalities, Human Rights and Civil Justice Committee undertook ten weeks of detailed evidence hearings on the proposals, hearing from a wide range of witnesses both supporting and opposed to the reforms.

“The UK Government has had more than six years to engage constructively with the Scottish Government over the proposals. For the UK Government to seek to block implementation of this Act would be disastrous for trans people, who deserve far better from their government.

“It would also profoundly undermine relationships with the Scottish Govt and damage the UK’s international reputation as a rights respecting nation.

“It will be yet another example of hampering progress on LGBTQ+ rights and undermine the PM’s pledge to govern with compassion.

“The UK Government already recognises equivalent birth certificates from all EU/EEA countries, including countries which have a de-medicalised model of legal gender recognition.

“To refuse to recognise Scottish certificates would be a mistake, fly in the face of international best practice and come across as spiteful. We hope this is the not the approach the Prime Minister wishes for the UK Government to take.”

The Scottish Government told the National: “The bill as passed is within legislative competence and was backed by an overwhelming majority, with support from all parties. Any attempt to undermine the democratic will of the Scottish parliament will be vigorously contested.”

A UK Government spokesperson the National: "Our concerns include the protection of single sex spaces, and the checks and balances included in the process of gaining a legal gender recognition certificate.

"We are still considering our next steps, and also the ramifications for the 2010 Equality Act and other UK wide legislation. No decision has been made on a course of action at this time."