UK decision to block gender reforms a 'democratic outrage', says Ian Blackford

The UK Government’s decision to block Scotland’s controversial gender reforms was a “democratic outrage”, the SNP’s former Westminster leader has said.

Ian Blackford said the move “quite clearly cannot be right”. First Minister Humza Yousaf previously signalled he still intends to challenge the decision in court, with an announcement due “imminently”.

The Scottish Conservatives accused Mr Yousaf of resorting to a “divisive and inflammatory approach”.

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MSPs passed the Gender Recognition Reform Bill by 86 votes to 39 before Christmas, approving reforms which would allow trans people to obtain a gender recognition certificate without the need for a medical diagnosis.

Former SNP Westminster leader Ian BlackfordFormer SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford
Former SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford

However, the move sparked huge controversy, with concerns from some politicians, women’s rights groups and others the changes could impact on safe spaces for females.

The UK Government blocked the Bill earlier this year using a section 35 order – a never-before-utilised section of the 1998 Scotland Act – to prevent it from gaining royal assent.

Mr Blackford told BBC Radio Scotland: “What’s at the heart of this matter is the Secretary of State for Scotland believes he has the power, he has the right, to strike down any bill of the Scottish Parliament. That’s a democratic outrage in a modern democracy.”

He said that members of the Scottish Parliament could be sent to Holyrood “by the electorate to enact a manifesto commitment and at a whim, at a stroke of a pen, the Secretary of State for Scotland can strike down any bill of the Scottish Parliament” and said he thought “it quite clearly cannot be right”.

Asked if he thought the Scottish Government would win, he replied: “Let’s wait and see.”

Conservative MSP Donald Cameron said: “It seems clear from Humza Yousaf’s own comments and now Ian Blackford’s interview that the SNP will ignore both public opinion in Scotland and the fact that Nicola Sturgeon’s flawed bill impacts on equalities law across the UK to create yet another constitutional stand-off.

“It’s a sign of the new First Minister’s weakness that he is resorting to such a divisive and inflammatory approach, when poll after poll has shown Scots oppose the gender self-ID proposals and the Isla Bryson scandal has shown how dangerous they are.”



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