SNP MSPs will be whipped to vote in favour of gender recognition reforms

SNP MSPs will be told to vote in favour of the Scottish Government’s planned gender recognition reforms, it can be confirmed.

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MSPs could face disciplinary action if they fail to back the Government’s plans to make the legal process of changing gender less bureaucratic and quicker. It will also see the requirement for a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria removed, with the minimum age dropped to 16.

All five main political parties in Scotland have previously backed reform of gender recognition, with the legislation long delayed by controversy and vocal opposition. This has included significant senior figures within the SNP such as Edinburgh South West MP Joanna Cherry.

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The Bill will face a stage one debate in the Scottish Parliament on Thursday – the main hurdle for the legislation to pass prior to amendments later in the parliamentary process. It is all but guaranteed to pass, with the vast majority of the SNP, most of the Scottish Labour party, and all of the Scottish Green and Scottish Liberal Democrats MSPs backing the legislation. Only Scottish Conservatives, who will have a free vote on the issue, are expected to broadly oppose the legislation. Scottish Labour MSPs will also be whipped to support the legislation.

The SNP are set to whip their MSPs to back reforms to gender recognition legislation.The SNP are set to whip their MSPs to back reforms to gender recognition legislation.
The SNP are set to whip their MSPs to back reforms to gender recognition legislation.

One MSP likely to vote against the legislation and potentially lose the whip is SNP MSP for Glasgow Shettleston, John Mason. A long-time opponent of the measures, Mr Mason was recently disciplined by the party for his views on abortion buffer zones, potentially leaving him open to a more serious sanction if he votes against the Government on gender recognition reform.

The Sunday Times reported earlier this week that senior SNP figures wanted a free vote on the legislation, with concerns they would be forced to “toe the party line” on the issue. Opponents have claimed the consultations were flawed and the party faces irreparable damage if they back the legislation. However, the bill is a key demand of the Scottish Green party, which entered into a co-operation agreement with the SNP after the 2021 Holyrood election.

Passing the Bill quickly in this parliamentary session was viewed as a red line for many Green MSPs and party members in signing up for the deal. Young SNP members are also broadly and vocally supportive.

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