UK's Sunak preparing to block Scottish gender reform bill -The Times

(Reuters) -British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is poised to block Scottish laws that make it easier for people to change their gender, The Times reported on Friday.

New legal advice could pave the way for the government to stop Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon's gender recognition laws from getting royal assent next week, the newspaper said, though it was unclear what that advice was.

Sunak will make a final decision with Scotland Secretary Alister Jack next week on invoking section 35 of the 1998 Scotland Act, which will prohibit Holyrood's presiding officer from submitting the bill for royal assent, the report added.

British Prime Minister's office did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

Scotland has always been clear the bill does not impact the Equality Act, a Scottish Government spokesperson said in an emailed statement to Reuters.

Any attempt by the UK Government to undermine the democratic will of the Scottish Parliament will be vigorously contested by the Scotland, the spokesperson added.

Scotland passed the bill last month, making it the first region of the United Kingdom to approve a self-identification process for changing gender, including removing the need for a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria and lowering the minimum age to 16 from 18.

Scotland had said similar laws in other countries led to a decrease in violence against transgender people, though hate crimes in the UK against the group have been rising in recent years.

Sunak raised concerns last month about the bill's impact on women and children's safety, though experts have rejected this argument.

The British National government had further said that it would examine the bill and could look at blocking it if necessary.

Sunak and Sturgeon had met on Thursday for a private working dinner.

(Reporting by Anirudh Saligrama in Bengaluru; Editing by Diane Craft and Josie Kao)