Transgender News

LGBTQ+ organisations to intervene on the UK Government’s block on Gender Recognition Reform Bill in Scotland

Graham Robson August 22, 2023

LGBTQ+ rights charity Stonewall, Gendered Intelligence and the Institute for Constitutional and Democratic Research (ICDR) have together been granted leave to intervene in a Scottish judicial review in which the Scottish Government is challenging the UK Secretary of State for Scotland, Alister Jack MP, on the issuing of a ‘section 35’ order to block the passage of the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill into law.

A senior judge has permitted these organisations to submit written evidence to the court, outlining their rationale behind challenging the UK Government’s stance that there would be adverse consequences if the Bill became law

Each of these charities represents a different area of relevant expertise, and by working together they will seek to provide evidence to the court demonstrating that:

  • International comparators demonstrate that measures similar to the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill have been implemented in comparable jurisdictions, without many or all of the adverse impacts which have been identified in the UK government Statement of Reasons.
  • The ‘adverse impacts’ on equalities law identified by the UK Government are, in fact, unlikely to occur or will only occur in very rare factual contexts
  • Parliament did not intend the section 35 powers be used in the case of a mere policy disagreement or without first exhausting other avenues for dialogue between the UK Government and Scottish Parliament.

Colin Macfarlane, Director of Nations at Stonewall, said: “The Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill was passed by an overwhelming majority of MSPs from across all the political parties in the Scottish Parliament. The Bill, as passed, would mean the process that trans men and trans women use to update the sex recorded on their birth certificates would no longer be intrusive and dehumanising.

“It would also bring Scotland into line with international best practice. More than 30 countries or territories around the world such as Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Ireland have similar or more progressive laws and we want Scotland to join them so our trans friends, family and colleagues can live their lives with dignity.’’

Victoria Grace, Chief Operations Officer of the ICDR, said: “Constitutional questions like this one aren’t just between governments. They impact on every citizen. Interventions like this one are an essential way for civil society to ensure that the court has all the information it needs to make a proper decision. The ICDR is delighted to have the opportunity to join with other civil society organisations to assist the court in this manner.”

Jay Stewart, CEO of Gendered Intelligence, said: “Trans people should be able to live their lives with dignity and autonomy. Gender Recognition Reform is about trans people not relying on medical practitioners to ‘authorise’ any one person’s gender. There are many countries across the world, including very recently Spain, where trans people can self-determine their legal gender.

“That Scotland has democratically decided that its trans citizens should be able to do the same should be upheld and respected. As a trans-led organisation, Gendered Intelligence is working hard to protect our human rights and we are pleased to be working alongside our colleagues Stonewall and ICDR to intervene in this case.”

Stonewall, Gendered Intelligence and the ICDR are represented by DLA Piper Scotland LLP. James Findlay K.C. and David Blair are instructed in the intervention. Robin Moira White, Adam Wagner, Sam Fowles and Stephanie Davin are also assisting in the proceedings. All are acting pro bono.