The UK government has been accused of launching an attack on LGBTQ+ rights after seeking legal advice over the potential blocking of the Scottish government’s gender recognition plans.
SNP ministers, backed by all parties at Holyrood except the Conservatives, have tabled plans to speed up the process for trans people to get a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC) – scrapping the requirement of a diagnosis of gender dysphoria by allowing self-identification.
Under these plans, applicants for an GRC must either be listed on a birth or adoption record held by the Registrar General or be ordinarily resident in Scotland.
But although the plans are delegated to the Scottish Parliament under equality legislation, the UK government has confirmed that it is “seeking legal advice on the potential impacts” of the legislation “on the rights of residents of the rest of the UK”.
As Britain’s equality minister in 2020, Liz Truss ended a similar plan for England that would have modernized the gender recognition process, stressing at the time that self-identification is not “fair” and that “medical checks are important”.
Ms Truss has angered equality groups by not including trans and non-binary people in UK proposals to ban conversion therapy. More than 120 LGBTQ+ organizations pulled out of the UK government’s ‘Safe To Be Me’ conference, which was eventually cancelled.
During the Conservative leadership campaign, Ms Truss was asked if ‘a trans woman was a woman’ and answered ‘no’.
Scottish Greens equalities spokeswoman Maggie Chapman said: ‘Any attempt to block or interfere with the progress of the Scottish Parliament on this is not just an attack on our democracy, it is an attack. against the rights of our LGBTQ+ community.
“Trans rights are human rights. We will always stand with our trans brothers and sisters, especially when they come under fire from a cynical and reactionary disinformation campaign like the one conservatives have pioneered.
“With the Greens in government, we will pass the Gender Recognition Reform Bill, end conversion therapy and transform gender identity services.”
SNP Social Justice Secretary Shona Robison was asked about the potential impact on the rest of the UK when she appeared before MSPs in June, confirming she did not expect a challenge Westminster Judiciary.
Mr Robison said ‘it will be up to other parts of the UK to decide on their own systems’, adding that ‘the UK government’s recognition of Scottish RCMP will be a matter for consideration’.
She added that there had been “ongoing engagement throughout the Bill process” with the UK government.
Asked directly if she expected any ‘Supreme Court challenges’ from the UK government, Ms Robison said: ‘No’.
She added: “Whether the UK government changes its processes is clearly a question for the UK government itself, as well as whether or not it recognizes Scottish Gender Recognition Certificates.
“It does not affect our ability to make changes to the law here.”
First reported by Vice, a spokesperson for the UK Government Equality Hub said: “The Government is working with Scottish counterparts and other stakeholders to explore the Bill’s considerations and any implications for England. and Wales.
“Part of that involves seeking legal advice on the potential impacts of the Scottish bill on the rights of residents of the rest of the UK.
“We will continue to closely monitor the development of the bill, analyzing its implications as necessary.”