Anti-trans pressure group For Women Scotland want to stop government from redefining ‘woman’ to include trans women

A photo showing anti-trans pressure group For Women Scotland holding placards

A judge at Scotland’s highest civil court has fixed dates for proceedings concerning whether a government plan to expand the legal definition of women to include trans women is “lawful”.

Scottish supreme court judge Lady Wise arranged for a two-day judicial review to take place at the Court of Session in Edinburgh during a short hearing on Thursday (26 November).

Campaigners from anti-trans pressure group For Women Scotland have gone to the Edinburgh court to challenge a proposed amendment to the Gender Representation on Public Boards (Scotland) Act 2018.

The act aims to ensure at least half of non-executive roles on public boards in Scotland are filled by women, and the amendment would change the wording to include trans women as well.

The Scottish government has proposed that instead of only referring to a woman as “a female of any age”, it will also include a “person who has the protected characteristic of gender reassignment”.

But For Women Scotland claims that including trans women is unlawful and that it will “erode women’s rights in law”.

The group, which launched legal action after Scottish ministers said earlier this year that they believed they could amend the legislation as it was “within legislative and devolved competence”, is arguing that equal opportunities are a matter reserved for the UK parliament at Westminster, and that the amendment breaches the Equality Act 2010.

The Scottish government believes the legislation needs to be amended to ensure more equal representation of all women on public boards.

Vic Valentine, manager of Scottish Trans Alliance, told The Herald : “If the court throws out this legislation it will set back the rights of all women – not just trans women – to take part in public life in Scotland.

“We believe all women should have their voices heard by public bodies, and trans women should not be singled out to be excluded.

“Trans people deserve the same dignity and privacy as everyone else. Why should we have to reveal intimate details about our history just so we can, say, sit on the board for the Accounts Commission or the National Library?”

Wise arranged for proceedings to take place at the court on 7 January and 8 January, 2021. The only submissions that will be heard are from For Women Scotland and the Scottish government.