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Scottish government concedes defeat around UK veto on self-ID

20 December 2023
Trans girl

The Scottish Social Justice Secretary, Shirley-Anne Somerville, has confirmed that the Scottish Government will drop their legal challenge against the UK's veto on their bid to introduce self-identification for people who identify as transgender.

Last December, the Scottish Government, at the time led by Nicola Sturgeon, voted through the Gender Recognition and Reform (Scotland) Bill, despite widespread public opposition and concern around child safeguarding and women's rights.

The Bill had sought to remove the need for a diagnosis of gender dysphoria from a medical professional, reduced the time limit needed to live in an 'acquired gender' from 18 to 16, and lowered the minimum age for applying to 16.

In response, Scottish Secretary Alister Jack triggered a Section 35 order - a first since Scottish devolution was sanctioned in 1999 - due to concerns the gender legislation would undermine UK-wide equality law.

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

Shirley-Anne Somerville said that the focus of the Scottish government would shift to improving transgender health care, but that the Bill would not be withdrawn from Parliament.

Michael Veitch, Scotland Policy Officer at CARE, commented:

“The Scottish Government have made a wise decision in not appealing the Court’s ruling to uphold the UK Government’s blocking of the Gender Recognition Reform Bill.

This is especially poignant as it is exactly one year since this deeply flawed and troubling piece of legislation was rushed through Parliament in the days and nights immediately preceding last Christmas.

The Bill was based on the objectively false narrative that biological sex is illusory, and would have had multiple damaging consequences, especially for our young people. Ministers should now do the right thing and withdraw the Bill entirely.”

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