Gender reform: SNP minister would be 'very excited' to bring Gender Recognition Reform Bill back to Holyrood

Equalities Minister Emma Roddick says she would like to bring gender reform back if a new UK Government agreed not to block it

A junior SNP minister says she would be “very excited” to bring the Gender Reform Bill back to Holyrood.

The proposals to overhaul gender laws in Scotland were abandoned last year after a court ruled the UK Government was right to block the legislation. Scottish Secretary Alister Jack is now looking to lodge a motion to get the Scottish Government to reimburse the UK Government for the court costs.

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Equalities minister Emma Roddick said she would like to bring gender reform back to the Scottish Parliament if a new UK Government agreed not to block Holyrood’s “democratic right”.

Trans rights supporters demonstrating outside the Scottish Parliament. Image: Lisa Ferguson/National World.Trans rights supporters demonstrating outside the Scottish Parliament. Image: Lisa Ferguson/National World.
Trans rights supporters demonstrating outside the Scottish Parliament. Image: Lisa Ferguson/National World.

“It can be brought back if any UK Government in the future is willing to lift the veto on the legislation, which passed by a two-thirds majority,” she told the BBC. “I would be very excited to see it come back again.

“Hopefully a UK Government in the future will have more respect for the Scottish Parliament’s democratic right.”

MSPs voted in December 2022 to pass the Gender Recognition Reform Bill, which aimed to make it easier for trans people to legally change their gender. The legislation aimed to do this by reducing the amount of time a person needs to live in their acquired gender before they can get a gender recognition certificate, as well as lowering the age someone can get this certificate from 18 to 16, and removing the need for a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria.

The Bill faced a considerable public backlash at the time, with concerns the legislation would not protect same-sex spaces and would have a knock-on effect on the safety of women and girls.

Emma Roddick. Picture: Lisa FegusonEmma Roddick. Picture: Lisa Feguson
Emma Roddick. Picture: Lisa Feguson

Despite being passed in Holyrood, the UK Government then stepped in to block the legislation from gaining royal assent and officially becoming law, saying it impacted on the UK-wide Equality Act 2010.

One of the first things Humza Yousaf did after becoming First Minister was to take the UK Government to court to challenge this decision. However, the court ended up ruling in the UK Government’s favour.

There are now concerns the Scottish Government will see a similar backlash as it looks to introduce a ban on conversion therapy. Conversion therapy is any practice that aims to change or suppress a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

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There are concerns a blanket ban on this could criminalise parents or religious leaders for supporting children who are questioning their sexuality or gender.

Ms Roddick wrote in The Scotsman to say the rights of parents and religious leaders would be safeguarded in any conversion therapy ban. She said the proposals were out for public consultation, and members of the public could share their concerns or ideas with the Scottish Government.

Ms Roddick said: “That’s not a new situation, to rethink parts of the proposals. This is a genuine consultation and we will always be open to rethinking parts of the policy, but that doesn’t amount to rethinking the policy itself.”

She added: “We will listen to anyone who has criticisms, concerns and ideas for how to strengthen the proposals and make it easier for certain folk to support this. I personally am really looking forward to seeing the consultation responses and reading them carefully before putting this Bill to Parliament.

“We have been extremely mindful of the need to tackle conversion practices in a way that does not prevent parents and faith leaders from guiding people, including children, who are questioning their identity. Safeguards have been worked in from the beginning to protect already recognised legal rights.”



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