Nicola Sturgeon faces anger over proposed gender legislation

Power-sharing deal with Green Party commits SNP to Gender Recognition Act reform

Tim Wyatt
Tuesday 24 August 2021 11:27
<p>The first minister Nicola Sturgeon announces the SNP’s deal with the Scottish Greens</p>

The first minister Nicola Sturgeon announces the SNP’s deal with the Scottish Greens

Gender critical feminist campaigners in Scotland have attacked the SNP’s plans to make it easier for people to legally change gender.

As part of the party’s new power-sharing deal with the Scottish Greens, the SNP have agreed to introduce a bill within the next year to reform and simplify the Gender Recognition Act, which governs how trans people can legally change gender.

Currently, the Act requires people to prove to a Gender Recognition Panel they have been diagnosed with gender dysphoria, they have lived in their new gender for at least two years already and then make legally-binding declaration they intend to live as this gender for the rest of their life.

The Scottish government has already held several consultations in recent years on amending the law to allow people to simply self-identify their new gender with a form which would automatically be recognised by the panel.

Their agreement with the Greens, who are supporting an SNP minority government in a formal confidence and supply deal, commits them to reforming the Act in the next 12 months.

The text of the agreement stats: “We will reform the Gender Recognition Act in a Bill introduced in the first year of this parliamentary session.

“This will ensure the process by which a trans person can obtain legal recognition is simplified, reducing the trauma associated with that process.”

But For Women Scotland, a lobbying group which formed in opposition to self-identification in 2018, has accused Nicola Sturgeon’s government of ignoring the views of women and trying to push through changes out of step with the public’s views.

“As usual with the SNP, it is not listening to the wider general public,” Marion Calder, the director of For Women Scotland, told The Daily Telegraph.

“This is the SNP forging ahead with its Bill without any consultation – it’s a farce – and it will try to rush this through as fast as it can.

"The general public have an understanding there’s only two sexes and they will be confused and astonished.

“Of all the things we could be looking at – economic recovery, drug deaths, falling education standards – the Scottish Government has decided it’s so important it’s got to be done in the first year."

For Women and other campaigners argue simplifying and speeding up the process of gender transition could open the door to men pretending to be trans women to gain access to female changing rooms or other spaces in society reserved for women.

Trans activists dismiss this as fear-mongering, and have said the current gender recognition process is overly bureaucratic and interfering with trans people’s private lives.

Under Theresa May, the government in Westminster held its own consultation on reforming the Act and introducing self-identification, but concluded last year the current process was fair and scrapped plans to change the law.

However, a spokesperson for the Scottish government insisted reforms to the Gender Recognition Act in Scotland posed no threat to women or their rights.

"This reform will be undertaken in a way that ensures women’s rights are preserved and protected,” they said.

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