UK government tries to block Scotland’s new gender recognition law

UK government tries to block Scotland's new gender recognition law
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The UK government has blocked a new law aimed at allowing trans people To change their legal gender in Scotland without a medical diagnosis – a controversial move that has fueled the already highly emotional debate over Scottish independence.

Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, called it “a full frontal attack on our democratically elected Scottish Parliament and its ability to make its own decisions on delegated matters” in a Twitter post on Monday.

Scottish Secretary Alister Jack had previously explained that Westminster took the unusual step of blocking the Scottish bill from becoming law because she was concerned about the bill’s impact on equality laws across the UK – a justification that trans rights groups reject.

Here’s what you need to know:

Scotland passed a new law in December to make it easier for people to change their legal gender.

In the current system, trans people have to go through a series of hoops to change the gender mark on their documents. They must have a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria, a condition defined by the distress caused by the inconsistency between a person’s body and their gender identity, and prove they have lived in their chosen gender for two years. They must also be at least 18 years old.

The new rules will remove the need for medical diagnosis and replace it with self-determination. The waiting period will be reduced from two years to six months and the age limit will be lowered to 16.

Campaigners have long argued that the current process is overly bureaucratic, expensive and intrusive. The Scottish government held two major public consultations on the issue and proposed new, simpler rules.

As the government proposes the new rules, “We think that trans people should not have to go through a process that can be humiliating, intrusive, upsetting and stressful in order to be legally recognized for the gender they live in.”

In the end, an overwhelming majority of Scottish MPs voted for the amendment – the final scoreboard was 86, 39 against.

The bill sparked an emotional backlash on both sides. The debate over the proposal was one of the longest, most heated debates in Scottish Parliament’s history, and the final vote had to be postponed after protesters yelled “shame” at MPs.

Many human rights and equality organizations and campaigners welcomed the new rules, noting the growing number of democratic countries where self-determination is the norm.

“After years of growing public prejudice against trans people, things are starting to move forward,” said Equality Network, a leading Scottish LGBTI rights group.

But the bill has drawn a large amount of criticism, including “Harry Potter” writer JK Rowling, who said the law could have a detrimental effect on the rights of women and girls.

Rowling and other opponents of the bill argue that the new rules will weaken the protection of spaces designed for women to feel safe, such as women-only shelters.

The Scottish government dismissed this claim, saying the law does not change rules about who can and cannot enter single-sex spaces. He also said that experience from countries making similar changes did not show any negative effects on other groups.

Campaigners agreed. “There’s no downside,” campaign group Stonewall said. “For example, when Ireland did this, no one was affected except trans people, who for the first time were able to achieve direct and empowering state recognition of their gender.”

Scotland has a devolved government, which means that most, if not all, decisions are taken at the Scottish Parliament in Holyrood, Edinburgh.

While Scots can make their own laws on matters such as health, education and the environment, the UK Parliament in Westminster remains in charge of issues such as defence, national security, immigration and foreign policy.

The UK government can stop Scottish bills from becoming law, but only in a few very specific circumstances – for example, if it believes or believes that the Scottish bill is incompatible with any international treaty, defense and national security interests, the Bill can pass a UK-wide resolution on matters outside Scotland’s jurisdiction. may conflict with the law.

Under the rules governing how Scotland is governed, London has four weeks to review a bill after it has been passed by Holyrood, and then it is sent to the King for Royal Assent, the final official step before it becomes law. .

The British government over the past few years anti-trans culture wars Debate with the aim of appealing to the traditional Conservative Party base in northern England and the new working class constituencies.

The government of former Prime Minister Boris Johnson has stalled a number of initiatives for the country’s LGBTQ community, including plans to make it easier for transgender people to change gender markers in England and Wales.

The question remains whether it is about the election. viable strategy. Yet before becoming prime minister, one of Rishi Sunak’s first commitments during the Conservative Party’s leadership race in 2022 was to protect “women’s rights,” he wrote in a Twitter post.

The post was linked to an article in the Daily Mail by an unnamed ally of Sunak that Sunak would prepare a manifesto against trans women competing in women’s sports, urging schools to “be more careful when teaching about gender and gender issues.”

In a statement, Jack argued that the bill could affect equality legislation across the UK.

“The bill will, among other things, have a significant impact on GB-wide equality issues in Scotland, England and Wales. Therefore, I have concluded that (barring) is the necessary and correct course of action.”

But its proponents disagree. Human rights group TransActual told CNN it saw “no reason” in the UK government’s decision to block the bill over concerns about equality laws across the UK.

“There is no justification for this action by Scottish Secretary Alister Jack. TransActual president Helen Belcher said in a statement she will lose any case brought by the Scottish government, because the Equality Act is 100% independent of the Gender Recognition Act and nothing in the Scottish Bill is changing that.

“Trans people have never needed gender recognition to be protected by the Equality Act,” he added.

Tensions were already high between London and Edinburgh over Scotland’s independence.

The last time Scotland held a referendum in 2014, voters rejected the prospect of independence by 55% to 45% – but things have changed since then, mostly because of Brexit.

People in Scotland voted to stay in the EU in the 2016 referendum, and the pro-independence Scottish National Party pushed for a new independence vote, claiming that the Scots were expelled from the European Union against their will.

The UK government has said it will not accept a new independence vote and the UK Supreme Court ruled The Scottish government cannot unilaterally hold a second independence referendum in November.

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