U.K. Government Blocks New Scottish Transgender Legislation

The United Kingdom has taken action to stop a Scottish measure from being implemented that would determine how people officially alter their designated gender in Scotland.

Scottish Secretary Alister Jack said Monday that the U.K. government was going to prohibit the passage of the Scottish legislation.

In an oral statement to parliament published Tuesday, Jack pointed out that the bill would create a new way for someone to apply for “legal gender recognition in Scotland.” It would lower the minimum age a person can apply to get a Gender Recognition Certificate and take away the necessity to get diagnosed medically, as well as the proof that the person has lived “for two years in their acquired gender.”

Jack said he was creating an order “under section 35 of the Scotland Act 1998 preventing the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill from proceeding to Royal Assent.”

He said the government “believes however that transgender people deserve our respect, our support and our understanding,” but his choice to make the order “is centred [sic] on the legislation’s consequences for the operation of reserved matters, including equality legislation across Scotland, England and Wales.”

When putting forward the new potential guidelines, the Scottish government said, “We think that trans people should not have to go through a process that can be demeaning, intrusive, distressing and stressful in order to be legally recognized in their lived gender.”

Jack said that the bill would “have a serious adverse impact, among other things, on the operation of the Equality Act 2010.” The negative aspects, he said, involve how single-sex clubs, schools, and groups work, as well as safeguards like equal pay.

He also said that the government has the same concerns as many other people and organizations over the possible effect of the legislation on women and girls.

Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon has noted there were “no grounds” for the U.K. government to not allow it to go through, making the argument that it didn’t impact the Equality Act.

Sturgeon told the BBC that Jack was carrying out a “profound mistake” and claimed that he is starting a “direct attack on the institution of the Scottish Parliament.” Sturgeon noted that this would “inevitably end up in court” and that the government of Scotland would “vigorously defend this legislation.”

“In doing so we will be vigorously defending something else, and that is the institution of the Scottish Parliament and the ability of MSPs, democratically elected, to legislate in areas of our competence,” Sturgeon said. “In short, we’ll be defending Scottish democracy.”

The U.K. government has not taken this step ever before since the Scottish Parliament started in 1999.

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