Scottish National Party ditches manifesto pledge to support reforms to gender recognition laws

Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon launches the Scotland National Party

The Scottish National Party has stripped a pledge to support gender recognition reforms from its manifesto, after a backlash against trans rights within the party.

The nationalist party unveiled its manifesto on Wednesday, ahead of the Westminster election on 12 December.

It revealed that the party appears to have quietly ditched a pledge from its 2017 Westminster manifesto to back reforms to the Gender Recognition Act, intended to streamline the process for trans people to gain legal recognition.

Clarifying the party’s position, an SNP spokesperson told PinkNews: “The SNP is committed to securing full equality for LGBT+ people.

“The SNP government is already in the process of reforming gender recognition law in Scotland, and has committed to publishing a draft bill by the end of this year. We support similar reforms at Westminster.”

SNP gender recognition pledge vanishes from 2019 manifesto.

The 2017 manifesto had made clear: “The SNP Scottish government is committed to reviewing and reforming gender recognition laws, in line with international best practice.

“SNP MPs will press the UK government to match the Scottish government’s commitment to legislation within this parliament.”

However, unlike Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the Green Party, the 2019 SNP manifesto contains no such pledge to support Gender Recognition Act reform.

The issue has proved controversial within the SNP, with first minister Nicola Sturgeon facing significant dissent from the party’s MPs and MSPs over its own plans for a devolved gender recognition law.

In June, the party opted not to proceed with a draft bill on the issue, instead launching a second public consultation.

There continues to be hostility to reforms within the party, with SNP MP Joanna Cherry telling the BBC last week that she fears “unintended consequences” to “rushing through self-identification legislation”.

More about fish than LGBT+ people.

The party’s 2019 manifesto contains more pledges about fish than about LGBT+ people, with no commitments on LGBT+ policy issues aside from one pledge on asylum reforms.

Many policy areas of concern to LGBT+ people, such as healthcare and policing, are devolved matters in Scotland.

However, many issues were cited in the 2017 manifesto – including a commitment to equal pension rights for same-sex couples, Equality Act reforms “to ensure all LGBTI people are fully protected from discrimination and harassment”, backing for “efforts to have PrEP made available on the NHS in the rest of the UK”, and a demand for the devolution of equality law.

None are present in the 2019 document.

SNP manifesto launch: Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon launches the Scotland National Party (SNP) general election manifesto in Glasgow, Scotland on November 27, 2019.

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon launches the Scotland National Party (SNP) general election manifesto in Glasgow, Scotland on November 27, 2019. (LESLEY MARTIN/AFP via Getty Images)

The SNP had also pledged in 2017 in a separate LGBTI manifesto to “push the UK government to allow non-binary people to record their gender as ‘X’ on passports and all other UK-wide records and identity documents.”

However, the document no longer appears to be available online.

The SNP spokesperson added: “The SNP government has delivered the UK’s most progressive equal marriage and LGBT+ hate crime laws, we passed the UK’s most comprehensive Turing Law, and we opened up adoption and IVF to same-sex couples.

“Despite Tory cuts to Scotland’s budget, the SNP government has given record funding to LGBT+ equality organisations, we made Scotland one of the first countries in the world to commit to LGBT+ inclusive education, we led the way on reforming blood donation rules, and we made Scotland the first country in the UK to approve the provision of PrEP in the NHS.
“At the last general election, the SNP had the most extensive LGBT+ equality manifesto of any major party. We will publish our full LGBT+ equality pledges later in the campaign, which will build on our record in government.
“At this crucial election, only the SNP can beat the Tories in Scotland. A vote for the SNP on 12 December is a vote to advance LGBT+ equality, escape Brexit, and put Scotland’s future in Scotland’s hands – not Boris Johnson’s.”

Stop asking LGBT asylum seekers to ‘prove’ their sexuality, manifesto says.

The only LGBT+ related policy in the manifesto states: “SNP MPs will push for reform of the detention and asylum system for LGBT+ individuals escaping countries where homosexuality is still criminalised, removing unfair and invasive demands for ‘proof’ of sexuality or gender identity.”

The policy mirrors a key reform in the Liberal Democrat manifesto, which also commits to reforms for asylum seekers.

It comes after a report, published in September, alleged that officials from the Home Office routinely ask LGBT+ asylum seekers how they can be gay if they are people of faith.

Cases have also come to light of asylum seekers being rejected on the grounds they are not “effeminate” enough, or for not having a gay “demeanour”.

One queer woman who sought asylum in the UK was deported to Uganda—where gay sex is illegal—after telling immigration officers that she had been persecuted and gang-raped because of her sexuality.