Scottish Parliament Passes ‘Historic’ Gender Reform Bill

Scottish Parliament Passes ‘Historic’ Gender Reform Bill
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Scotland has become the first country in the UK to approve gender self-identification plans which will make it easier for 16-and-17-year-old individuals to legally change their gender for the first time. 

Many have celebrated this as a “historic day for equality,” with members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) backing the proposals by a final vote of  86 to 39. 

Will Make Getting A Gender Recognition Certificate Easier

The gender recognition reform (Scotland) bill will make the process of obtaining a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC) easier and less intrusive for individuals to legally change the gender recorded on their birth certificate.

The bill removes the requirement for a psychiatric diagnosis of gender dysphoria in order to obtain a gender recognition certificate (GRC), and extends the application process to 16- and 17-year-olds for the first time.

Scotland’s new self-identification bill will also reduce the time required for an applicant to live in their acquired gender from two years to three months (or six months for people aged 16 and 17), with a three-month reflection period during which they can change their mind.

‘Improves Lives And Directly Tackles Inequality’

Labour’s Pam Duncan-Glancy praised the legislation, declaring that this bill provided MSPs with “one of those rare moments… where we all have a real opportunity to improve lives and directly tackle inequality.”

She asserted that the bill would help “society to accept them [trans people] and to support them to be their best selves, without barriers or additional costs or medicalisation.”

Stonewall called this a “victory for trans and all human rights in Scotland”, posting a ‘thank you’ to everyone in Scotland who emailed their MSPs, declaring that their support was “invaluable” on Twitter.

Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice, Housing and Local Government Shona Robison compared the self-identification bill to the equal marriage and civil partnership legislation that was signed in the past. “This is an important step to creating a more equal Scotland,” she said. 

Robinson spoke on the application process for a GRC under the new guidelines, asserting that the system would retain its “substantial and significant legal process,” where the bill would not change public policy around the “provision of single-sex spaces and services.”

“Trans rights are not in competition with women’s rights and, as so often before, we can improve things for everyone when those discriminated against act as allies not opponents,” Robinson said. 

Sunak Government Threatens to Block Scottish Bill 

Scottish secretary Alister Jack, has suggested that the UK government may block the gender recognition reform (Scotland) bill passed by MSPs.

According to Section 35 of the Scotland Act, the Scottish secretary has the power to intervene with Bills if there are “reasonable grounds to believe would be incompatible with any international obligations or the interests of defence or national security” or there are “reasonable grounds to believe would have an adverse effect on the operation of the law as it applies to reserved matters.” 

According to The Guardian, Jack issued a statement responding to the vote, stating:

“We share the concerns that many people have regarding certain aspects of this bill, and in particular the safety issues for women and children.

“We will look closely at that, and also the ramifications for the 2010 Equality Act and other UK wide legislation, in the coming weeks – up to and including a section 35 order stopping the bill going for royal assent if necessary.”

Ministers have until January 19 to issue such an order which the Scottish Government have vowed to “vigorously contest” if the motion is pushed through. 

A Scottish government spokesman said that the Bill was passed “within legislative competence, and was backed 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 contested by the Scottish Government,” they said.

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