Government weighs up blocking Scotland's Gender Recognition Act

Tories look at turning spotlight on Starmer ‘to force Labour leader to set out his position on trans people self-declaring their gender’ as Westminster government weighs up blocking Scotland’s controversial Gender Recognition Act

  • Keir Starmer could be dragged into a parliamentary row over a new Scottish law
  • Gender Recognition Reform Bill was passed by the SNP in Holyrood last week
  • The UK government warned it could seek to block the bill from becoming law. 
  • Nicola Sturgeon’s party could challenge it in the courts and in Westminster

Sir Keir Starmer could be dragged into a parliamentary row over a new Scottish law which will allow trans people to self-declare their gender. 

The Gender Recognition Reform Bill was passed by the SNP in Holyrood last week on Thursday, December, 15. 

The UK government warned it could seek to block the bill from becoming law.

If they were to do so, it could cause the SNP to challenge it in courts and in parliament.

The Conservative party hope this would then push Starmer to publicly discuss his position on self-ID in more detail. 

Starmer previously said he would change the law to allow transgender people to self-identify their gender if Labour is elected

 The Gender Recognition Reform Bill was passed by the SNP in Holyrood last week on Thursday, December, 15, 2022

A senior government source told the Times: ‘It would lead to a debate in Parliament that would be very interesting for Sir Keir Starmer’.

Starmer previously said he would change the law to allow transgender people to self-identify their gender if Labour is elected.

Mr Starmer has said he would ‘update’ the gender recognition act, despite concerns the move could affect women’s rights, The Telegraph reported.

The Bill provoked fears that abusive males could take advantage of the system.

It puts the Government on a constitutional collision course with Holyrood.

Scottish Secretary Alister Jack said he was considering blocking it from becoming law with a Section 35 to stop the bill gaining Royal Assent.

It would be the first time such powers have been used.

Labour criticised the Government for threatening to ride roughshod over devolution, but the party refused to detail its plans.

The bill removes the need for a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria to obtain a gender recognition certificate (GRC).

It also changes the age at which people can apply from 18 to 16 and introduced a three week ‘reflection period’ which allows a person to change their mind up to three months. 

What is the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill? 

The Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill will make it easier for trans people to obtain a gender recognition certificate (GRC), which is legal recognition of their acquired gender.

It will introduce a system of self-declaration for obtaining a GRC and remove the need for a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria.

It will also lower the minimum age for applicants from 18 to 16 and drop the time required for an applicant to live in their acquired gender from two years to three months, although with a subsequent, three-month reflection period.

While it was debated by MSPs in the Scottish Parliament, changes were made to the legislation to mean 16 and 17-year-olds will have to live in their acquired gender for six months rather than three before applying for a GRC.

There will also be a new statutory aggravation to the offence of making a fraudulent application for a GRC.

And anyone subject to a sexual harm prevention order or sexual offences prevention order will not be allowed to seek a GRC. 

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