London Rejects Scotland’s Gender Self-ID Bill

London Rejects Scotland's Gender Self-ID Bill

( – Scottish separatists are outraged after the British government vetoed a controversial gender bill passed by the Scottish Parliament. Nationalists condemned the move as an “attack” on democracy — but most Scots oppose the bill and support the veto.

In 2017 the Scottish Government, the regional assembly that runs local services in Scotland, started consultations on a new law to amend the UK’s 2004 Gender Recognition Act. This developed into an ambitious law that removed the requirement for anyone who wants to change gender to get a diagnosis of gender dysphoria, slashed the time they had to live in their “new” gender from two years to three months and, most controversially, cut the minimum age from 18 to 16.

The bill’s journey wasn’t smooth. Feminists led by Harry Potter author J. K. Rowling criticized the legislation for making it too easy for men to legally “change” gender and access women’s spaces. A UN expert on violence against females warned that the new law “would potentially open the door for violent males who identify as men to abuse the process.” The UK’s Equality & Human Rights Commission notified the Scottish Government that the bill conflicted with UK legislation. Nevertheless, the Scottish National Party (SNP) administration pushed ahead, and on December 22, the bill passed by 86 votes to 39. All parties except the Conservatives whipped their legislators to support it — but nine SNP and two Labour MSPs defied the whip and voted against.

Normally the bill would now go to King Charles III to receive royal assent, but on January 16, the British Government intervened. Scottish Secretary Alastair Jack announced that, because the bill would allow people to get a gender recognition certificate in Scotland but use it anywhere in Britain, it affected the rest of the UK — and the Scottish Parliament isn’t allowed to do that. With the approval of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, Jack issued a veto order under Section 35 of the Scotland Act.

This is the first time Section 35 has ever been used, and it’s outraged nationalists. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon (SNP) called the veto a “full-frontal attack on our democratically elected Scottish Parliament” and pledged to overturn it in court, while Social Justice Secretary Shona Robison (SNP) called it a “dark day for democracy in the UK.” However, two-thirds of Scots are opposed to the bill, so it’s hard for the SNP to pretend they’re upholding the public’s will in this case.

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