Sturgeon warns gender plans opponents not to 'further stigmatise' trans people

Nicola Sturgeon
Nicola Sturgeon

NICOLA Sturgeon has warned opponents over a narrative that will “further stigmatise the trans community” over the gender recognition reforms.

The First Minister told MSPs the Scottish Government will respond to concerns raised by the UN special rapporteur for violence against women and girls, Reem Alsalem, about the administration’s plans to streamline the process for obtaining a gender recognition certificate.

In a letter to the UK Government, Ms Alsalem claimed the proposals could “potentially open the door for violent males who identify as men to abuse the process of acquiring a gender certificate and the rights that are associated with it”

She has called on the Scottish Government to to “dedicate sufficient time to complete a thorough assessment of all foreseeable consequences” of the legislation.

Earlier this week, SNP Social Justice Secretary Shona Robison backed an amendment to the proposals tabled by Conservative MSP Jamie Greene for an aggravator to be added to allow courts to hand out tougher penalties to anyone fraudulently abusing the process.

She also accepted an amendment by Labour MSP Pam Duncan-Glancy stating in writing that the proposals remain in line with the Equalities Act.

Under the plans, transgender people will no longer require a gender dysphoria diagnosis – with a move to a elf-ID system, while the age limit will be lowered from 18 to 16.

Tory MSP Pam Gosal, claimed the UN expert has “condemned the SNP’s gender recognition reforms”.

She added: “The United Nations claims that this bill could allow violent males to access women-only spaces, posing a risk to the safety of both women and trans women.

“The expert appealed to the Scottish Government to set aside more time to consider the bill’s possible unintended consequences.

“Can I ask the First Minister, does she agree with this United Nations expert that this bill should be postponed so that these legitimate concerns about women’s safety can be addressed.”

The First Minister pointed out that no-one requires a gender recognition certificate to enter a single-sex space.

She said: “I believe that those who are responsible for violent attacks on women are those who perpetrate those attacks.

“Where that is, as is very often the case, it is violent men that we should be focusing on.

“They continue to pose the biggest risk to women. I don’t believe that we should further stigmatise the trans community because of the actions of violent men.”

Ms Sturgeon added: “Violent men who right now want to access women-only spaces do not need a gender recognition certificate to do that.

“So let’s focus on the problem and when the problem is violent men, that is the one we should focus on.”

The First Minister told MSPs the Government will “respond in full” to the comments made by Ms Alsalem.

She added: “I’m not sure the comments were quite as they were characterised in the question .

“ The Social Justice Secretary will respond in detail on the issues raised – many of these issues have been discussed and addressed already by Parliament during stages one and two of the bill.

“Of course, parliament will have the opportunity to discuss the bill again at stage three of the legislative process.”