SNP MP rejects First Minister's claim Tories 'stoking culture war' over gender reform

SNP MP rejects First Minister's claim Tories 'stoking culture war' over gender reform <i>(Image: PA)</i>
SNP MP rejects First Minister's claim Tories 'stoking culture war' over gender reform (Image: PA)

NICOLA Sturgeon’s claim that the UK government are using trans rights to stoke a “shameful culture war” has been attacked by one of her own MPs.

Joanna Cherry said the language was being used to “silence the legitimate concerns of feminists.”

The Edinburgh South West MP has long been critical of the Scottish Government’s gender recognition reforms.

However, she has said she will back an attempt by Westminster colleagues to block Alister Jack’s attempt to veto the legislation, saying

Stephen Flynn is to use a parliamentary convention in the Commons to stop the Section 35 from going ahead.

The Westminster group leader said there was cross-party support for the motion.

Last week, the Secretary of State for Scotland invoked the power for the first time in the history of devolution to stop Scotland’s Gender Recognition Reform Bill from becoming law.

The legislation - passed by MSPs just before Christmas - simplifies the process for obtaining a gender recognition certificate (GRC) by removing the need for a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria.

It also reduces the length of time someone would need to live in their acquired gender from two years to less than 12 months. It also lowers the minimum age for applications from 18 to 16.

According to the UK government, this will alter the “careful balance” of the Equality Act 2010, by removing safeguards that mean trans people can be excluded from certain single-sex spaces for women.

On Sunday, speaking to the BBC, the First Minister claimed the intervention was politically motivated.

READ MORE: FM: 'no compelling or persuasive legal argument against gender bill'

“Shamefully, disgracefully, [the UK Government] are trying to stoke a culture war on the back of one of the most vulnerable groups in our society because they somehow think that plays well with their base ahead of the next general election.

"They are stoking a culture war and, secondly, this part of a pattern of seeking to undermine and delegitimising the Scottish parliament.

“The issues are really important and I feel very strongly that trans people should not be weaponised.”

Asked if she agreed with the First Minster, Ms Cherry told the BBC: “I'm not sure that I would use the language of ‘culture war’.

"I think that language is sometimes used to silence the legitimate concerns of feminists like myself and lesbians like myself about the unintended consequences of self-identification.

“I'm completely in favour of equal rights for trans people, but the First Minister herself has said that this bill creates no new rights for trans people and it doesn't, what it does is it creates a right for anyone, any man to self identify as a woman with minimal safeguards.”

Ms Cherry said it did not take “very much imagination” about what the unintended consequences of the legislation could be.

READ MORE: Hate crimes against transgender people rising faster than any other in Scotland

The MP, who chairs Parliament’s Joint Committee on Human Rights, referenced the case of Isla Bryson, a trans woman found guilty of raping two women when she was a man.

Bryson has been remanded in custody, with reports suggesting she is being held in a segregation unit at Cornton Vale women’s prison.

Asked if she would back the SNP’s attempts to block the Section 35, Ms Cherry said: "Everyone knows about my issues with the legislation, and they're very much based on my concern for universal human rights.

"I'm completely in favour of trans rights but I think the bill which allows self-identification will have unintended consequences for the rights of women and girls and for LGB rights.

“And I frankly, don't think that when the bill went through Scottish Parliament, it had as thorough an analysis from a human rights perspective as it should have done.

“And indeed, I do think there was proper scrutiny of the concerns of the Equality and Human Rights Commission and others, that the bill might impact on the Equality Act.

“But I'm a supporter of Scottish self-determination. And I believe that problems made in Scotland should be sorted out in Scotland and I'd like to see the United Kingdom Government stop meddling with the Scottish Parliament and get on with running the UK effectively, which let's face it isn't doing at the moment.”

READ MORE: Police probe 'decapitate terfs' sign at rally

The SNP motion in the Commons reads: “That a humble Address be presented to His Majesty, praying that The Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill (Prohibition on Submission for Royal Assent) Order 2023, dated 17 January 2023, a copy of which was laid before this House on 17 January 2023, be annulled.”

Mr Flynn said the move by Mr Jack was an “unprecedented attack” on Scottish democracy and said it should “never have happened”.

He said: “It shows Scotland will always be vulnerable under Westminster control, and independence is the only way to guarantee remote Westminster governments can't overturn Scotland's decisions.

"It speaks volumes that the overwhelming majority of Scotland's MPs, and cross-party MPs from across the devolved nations, oppose this Tory assault on devolution.

To view this content, you'll need to update your privacy settings.
Please click here to do so.

"MPs in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland know that if the Tories get away with this shameful attack on democracy, the entire devolution settlement is under threat - with the risk of any future bill passed by a devolved parliament at risk of being struck down by Westminster.

"The SNP will continue to stand up for Scottish democracy and the rights of trans people, who are the casualties of this appalling Tory culture war.

"But it's clear the only way to properly protect Scotland's democracy is to become an independent country and escape Westminster control for good."