GRA Scotland: Scottish Parliament committee launches consultation on gender recognition reform

The Equalities, Human Rights and Civil Justice (EHRCJ) Committee has launched a call for views as part of its consideration of the much-debated Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill.

The Parliamentary committee is seeking views from individuals and organisations about proposed changes to the Gender Recognition Act (Scotland) to help inform their inquiry and ensure the Bill receives “appropriate and robust” scrutiny.

The much-anticipated and consulted upon legislation would amend the Gender Recognition Act 2004 to introduce new criteria for applicants seeking to obtain a Gender Recognition Certificate.

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New measures in the reform would mean the time period applicants are required to live in their acquired gender will be reduced from two years to three months with an additional three month reflection period.

A Scottish Parliament committee has launched a consultation as part of its consideration of the much-debated Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill.

Applicants will also no longer need to provide a medical diagnosis or medical evidence to support their application and the age people can apply to the process will be reduced from 18 to 16.

It will also be a criminal offence for applicants to make false statutory declarations with a sentence of up to two years’ imprisonment and/or a fine.

The consultation period marks the third time the change to the process has been consulted on.

However, Scottish Greens equalities spokesperson Maggie Chapman said the consultation period “does not constitute a delay” to legislation.

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The MSP said: “As with any legislation, committee scrutiny includes a call for views and evidence to build on the Scottish Government’s two consultations on this last term.

"We remain committed to improve the lives of trans people quickly, especially given the rise in misinformation about this bill and hate crime against this marginalised group.”

The EHRCJ committee convener Joe FitzPatrick MSP said the consultation “marks the first step” in the committee’s scrutiny of the reform and it is “vital” to hear from a wide range of voices”.

He added: “We have launched this call for views to hear from you about your views on the key changes in the Bill, such as the removal of the need for medical evidence and reducing the minimum age for applications.

"The views of people and organisations from across the country are crucial to ensuring that this Bill is properly considered.”

There has been much debate around the reform with groups raising concerns that the new legislation could have an impact on single-sex exceptions in the Equality Act.

There are also fears the change in law could potentially place women in danger from men who might abuse a self-identification system.

The committee has stated it will not explore any issues outwith the scope of the Bill as part of the inquiry.

Meghan Gallacher MSP, Scottish Conservative Shadow Minister for Children and Young People welcomed the committee’s consultation period and said the Gender Reform Act debate “must be conducted in a sensitive and respectful manner”.

The MSP added: “The Gender Reform Act elicits passionate opinions on both sides and it’s vital that all view are not just heard, but taken into account.

“We will scrutinise and debate the Scottish Government’s proposals carefully, but we are clear that the rights and safety of women must not be eroded or compromised by this.”

Those who wish to shared their views with the committee can do so via the Scottish Parliament’s Citizen Space platform.

The deadline for submissions is May 16.

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