Judge throws out Scottish anti-trans group’s bid to block to trans inclusion

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

The anti-trans pressure group For Women Scotland has lost a legal battle to have trans women removed from a government act designed to increase the number of women on public boards.

For Women Scotland challenged the Gender Representation on Public Boards (Scotland) Act 2018, which aims for public boards in Scotland to have equal representation between men and women, two whole years after its introduction. 

The act includes a definition of the word “woman” that includes trans women, with or without a Gender Recognition Certificate.

On their CrowdJustice page, through which For Women Scotland raised more than £100,000 for the legal challenge, the anti-trans group argued that including trans women in the act “sets a dangerous precedent”.

They claimed that the amendment to the act which included trans women was a breach of the the Equality Act 2010, and that the Scottish parliament did not have the power to make the amendment, claiming equal opportunities were a matter reserved for the UK parliament at Westminster.

A judicial review of the case took place in January, and on Tuesday (23 March), Scottish supreme court judge Lady Wise announced that For Women Scotland had lost their case.

She wrote in her decision: “I have concluded that none of the challenges to the 2018 Act advanced by the petitioner can succeed… The Act was within the legislative competence of the Scottish Parliament and does not offend against the fundamental principle of equality of treatment.

“I will dismiss the petition and reserve meantime all questions of expenses.”

Lady Wise also noted that a “helpful” submission had been written by the charity Scottish Trans, which “addressed some of the equal opportunities arguments from the perspective of transgender people”.

She wrote: “It included a contention there is no single legal definition of the term ‘woman’ that applied throughout the UK.

“The petitioner’s argument was wrong insofar as it suggested that only those with a Gender Recognition Certificate could benefit from equal opportunities measures designed to promote equality of opportunity for women.”

For Women Scotland said its members were “hugely disappointed” by the decision, and would be “taking further advice” from lawyers.

Scottish Trans manager Vic Valentine said in a statement: “This is an important decision: clearly stating that this equal opportunities measure for women that explicitly includes trans women in line with how they live their lives did not breach the law.

“We know that trans women continue to have almost no visibility in public life: whether that is in boardrooms, council chambers or parliaments.

“We hope that any trans woman who has felt unsure about applying for a position on a Scottish public board due to this judicial review will be reassured by this decision.

“We believe women should have their voices heard and be represented on public boards, and trans women should not be singled out to be excluded.

“We are pleased that this outcome means that all women, including transgender women, will continue to have that representation guaranteed.”