In a constitutional first, Downing Street has blocked Nicola Sturgeon’s controversial transgender reforms after concluding that the new law would have “chilling effects” on the safety of women-only spaces across Britain.
The move will stop the new law, approved in December, in its tracks, which lowers the age people can apply to legally change their gender to 16, and makes it easier and faster to obtain a gender recognition certificate. Women’s groups have strongly opposed the measure, saying it would allow bad-faith actors or predatory men to gain access to women-only spaces because of the ease by which gender could be legally changed.
The decision, approved by British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, along with Scottish Secretary Alister Jack, means that the controversial Gender Recognition Reform Bill will now be vetoed. Jack said he had reached the conclusion that the Bill would be of detriment to the operation of British-wide equalities legislation after he took in-depth legal advice on the impact it would have.
Writing to Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, a strident advocate of the Bill, he said that an order stopping the legislation, would outline “in full the adverse effects” of the proposals, including the impact the law would have on “the operation of single-sex clubs, associations and schools, protections such as equal pay and chilling effects on single-sex spaces”.
He also highlighted the complications the Bill could create, arising from a scenario where a person would be regarded as legally male in Scotland but female in England, or vice-versa, adding that this was “significant”.
Complications would be further exacerbated, he said, by the legislation permitting those as young as 16 to change their legal gender, unlike in the rest of the UK. He said this would result in “more fraudulent or bad faith applications”.
The Scottish Secretary said he recognised the decision was “significant” – it is the first time that an order will be tabled under Section 35 of the Scottish Act to verto a Holtrood Bill.
He said that the decision was made on the basis of the legislation’s consequences for UK-wide protections. He also said he hoped that he and Ms Sturgeon could work together to bring forward an amended Bill to address the underlying problems – adding that those seeking to change their gender “deserve our respect, support and understanding”.
First Minister Sturgeon seemed unaccepting of Mr Jack’s olive branch – as she took to Twitter to describe the blocking of the Bill as a “full-frontal attack on our democratically elected Scottish Parliament and its ability to make its own decisions on devolved matters”.
READ ON BELOW…UK Govt blocks Scotland’s transgender law in unprecedented move – Gript