UK government to block Scotland’s controversial gender reform bill – Scotland Secretary says

UK government to block Scotland’s controversial gender reform bill – Scotland Secretary says

Scotland Secretary Alister Jack said on Monday that the UK government would block Scotland’s controversial gender reform bill, a decision that is expected to set up a judicial battle between the two governments.

Jack expressed worry that the decision by Edinburgh’s devolved assembly to make it easier for people to alter their legally recognized gender will have a detrimental impact on equalities laws in England, Scotland, and Wales.

“I have decided to make an order under section 35 of the Scotland Act 1998, preventing the Scottish parliament’s Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill from proceeding to Royal Assent,” Jack said.

Royal assent is the last step necessary to enact proposed legislation into law.

In accordance with devolution principles, which led to the foundation of the Scottish parliament in 1999, London may veto legislation if ministers consider it would have a “adverse effect on the operation of the law.”

The Act, which was approved by the Scottish parliament in December, makes it simpler and quicker for individuals to legally alter their gender by eliminating the need for a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria.

It permits 16- and 17-year-olds to change gender, despite attempts by certain Scottish legislators to maintain the limit at 18.

It also decreases from two years to three months, or six months for 16- to 17-year-olds, the amount of time a person must live in their new gender before it is formally recognized.

Jack said that although transgender individuals through the process to alter their legal gender deserve respect, support, and understanding, his choice was based on the legal implications of the situation.

“I have not taken this decision lightly,” he added.

“The bill would have a significant impact on, amongst other things, GB-wide equalities matters in Scotland, England and Wales.

“I have concluded, therefore, that this is the necessary and correct course of action.”

Earlier on Monday, Scotland’s nationalist First Minister Nicola Sturgeon cautioned London against any attempt to stop the bill, stating that her administration is prepared to “rigorously” defend its rights before the UK’s highest court.

The impending impasse over the gender bill exacerbates London’s strained ties with the Scottish government, less than two months after the Scottish National Party’s (SNP) attempts to stage a second independence referendum were thwarted by the UK Supreme Court.

Sturgeon told reporters in Edinburgh that her administration is prepared to “rigorously” defend the gender legislation if it is rejected by the UK government.

Opponents of the bill are concerned that it might pose risks to women and girls, especially in regards to the provision of single-sex facilities.

However, the Scottish government claims it will have no effect on the UK’s Equality Act, which permits transgender persons to be banned from single-sex places such as changing rooms and shelters.

Sturgeon, who has faced one of the worst internal uprisings during her eight-year reign, said that the old system for gender transition was “intrusive, traumatic, and dehumanising.”

“In my view there are no grounds to challenge this legislation,” she added.

“So if there is a decision to challenge, in my view, it will be quite simply a political decision and I think it will be using trans people — already one of the most vulnerable, stigmatised groups in our society — as a political weapon.

“And I think that will be unconscionable and indefensible and really quite disgraceful.”

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