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Alba Party to call for end to legal action over gender reform bill

Ash Regan will lodge a motion asking the Scottish Government to scrap proposed gender reforms following a Court of Session ruling <i>(Image: PA)</i>
Ash Regan will lodge a motion asking the Scottish Government to scrap proposed gender reforms following a Court of Session ruling (Image: PA)

THE Alba Party will lodge a parliamentary motion urging the Scottish Government to halt legal action over the Gender Recognition Reform (GRR) Bill.

Ash Regan, the party’s only MSP, will request ministers scrap any plans to roll out the bill after the Court of Session ruled the UK Government could lawfully block the legislation last week.

The GRR Bill was passed by two-thirds of MSPs in the Scottish Parliament in December 2022 but was subsequently stopped from becoming law after Scottish Secretary Alister Jack made the unprecedented decision to use a Section 35 order.

Jack raised concerns the reforms could adversely impact on UK equality law.

As the powers to legislate over gender reforms are devolved to the Scottish Parliament, the Scottish Government took the UK Government to court over its decision, leading to a two-day showdown in the Court of Session in September this year.

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But Judge Lady Haldane gave her official ruling on the case last Friday and said UK ministers did have the right to block the reforms.

The case could now end up in the Supreme Court if the Scottish Government decides to appeal.

Regan, who resigned from the Government in opposition to the bill last year, insisted ministers will lose the support of the country if they keep pursuing the policy.

She said: “I had previously warned the Scottish Government that they were attempting to face down Westminster on an issue that they would lose.

“Many high-profile incidents have now showed us that the Gender Recognition Reforms proposed are not fit for purpose.

“Hundreds of thousands of pounds have already been wasted and it would be unimaginable for the Scottish Government to appeal this decision and then ultimately proceed to a situation of potentially asking the UK Supreme Court to overturn a decision of Scotland’s highest court.

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“The Scottish Government lost the battle in court and they will further lose the support of the people of Scotland if they keep pursuing this policy.

“I urge Humza Yousaf to now completely scrap his Government’s gender reforms.”

The Scottish Government has 21 days from the day of the decision to make a call on whether to appeal.

The legislation – which was passed by a cross-party majority at Holyrood - would make it easier for people to change their legally-recognised sex.

It would remove the need for trans people to be diagnosed with gender dysphoria by a doctor before they are allowed to change their legally-recognised sex in Scotland, and would lower the age that someone can apply for a gender recognition certificate from 18 to 16.

The period in which applicants would need to have lived in their acquired gender would be cut from two years to three months.

The Alba motion, which MSPs will be able to sign, will read: “That the Parliament notes the outcome of the Court of Session’s decision that the Secretary of State for Scotland’s use of the provision set out in Section 35 of the Scotland Act 1998 was lawful, regrets that the Scottish Parliament brought forward legislation that was so fundamentally flawed that it allowed the UK Government the opportunity to challenge the legislation, notes the views of women across Scotland that the Gender Recognition Reform Act is a risk to the safety, privacy and dignity of women and girls, notes that the Scottish Government have spent a considerable amount of public funds to date on legal costs in its attempt to roll out this legislation, and calls on the Scottish Government to now halt any further legal action and to dispose of any intention to roll out the Gender Recognition Reform Act.”