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Block on Scottish gender bill ruled lawful

8 December 2023
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UK Ministers acted lawfully in blocking controversial Scottish Government gender legislation, a court has ruled.

The Court of Session in Edinburgh rejected a Scottish Government appeal against the decision, concluding: “The challenge to the order pronounced under section 35 of the 1998 Act...fails."

The Scottish Government's gender recognition legislation was passed at Holyrood last year by 86 votes to 39 - despite serious concerns about its impact on child safeguarding, and women's sex-based rights.

The legislation is designed to "de-medicalise" the process by which a person can legally 'change sex' and allow self-declaration of sex by people aged 16 and above. Feminists, child protection professionals and faith groups are among a broad range of opponents.

The UK Government lodged a section 35 order to block the Scottish Bill citing an impact on wider UK equality legislation. It is likely that the legal battle will continue to the Supreme Court, given the Scottish Government's desire to see it made law.

Michael Veitch, Scotland Policy Officer at CARE, commented:

“Today’s ruling is unlikely to be the end of the road in this complex legal battle, but it will be welcomed by a broad range of groups that fear the impact of a ‘self-ID’ system on child safeguarding, sex-based provisions, and the integrity of official data.

“We urge political leaders to give attention to legitimate and sincerely held concerns about the gender recognition legislation and related policies, and ensure a civil and respectful discourse that affords all parties the right to speak."

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