UK government could refuse to recognise Scottish trans people after gender law reforms

UK equalities minister Kemi Badeoch and Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon

The UK government could refuse to recognise gender recognition certificates from Scotland, where its Parliament is set to simplify the legal process to change genders, it has been reported.

Some laws that apply in Scotland are made by its own Parliament in Edinburgh and others are made at Westminster by the UK Parliament. This has been the case for almost 25 years.

The new Scottish legislation would shorten the time it takes for people wanting to obtain gender recognition certificates, which would allow them to change the gender on their birth certificate.

It would also mean medical diagnoses are not needed, and the legal age to change gender would drop from 18 to 16.

The legislation is expected to be passed by the Scottish Parliament later this month, according to the BBC, and would amend the UK Parliament’s Gender Recognition Act 2004.

However, a source told the broadcaster it was “absolutely” possible UK government ministers could refuse to recognise the documentation.

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The source also said “nothing can be ruled out” in relation to the chances of a legal challenge from Westminster once the legislation is passed.

Equalities secretary Kemi Badenoch has reportedly expressed concern about the legislation to the Scottish government and has offered to meet with its ministers.

PinkNews has approached Kemi Badenoch for comment.

During Badenoch’s first appearance as Equalities secretary in the House of Commons, she used her time to attack PinkNews founder Benjamin Cohen, after he called out her voting record on LGBTQ+ rights and having referred to trans women as “men”.

Kemi Badenoch
Several MPs have urged Kemi Badenoch and the conservative government to act on its promise to ban conversion therapy. (Credit: Getty Images)

In October 2022, it was reported that Badenoch had halted plans for a partial ban on conversion therapy in the UK, as she wanted to scrutinise the UK bill.

Scottish Social Justice Secretary Shona Robinson is happy to meet with Badenoch, The Herald reported.

The BBC also reported another source saying there were concerns the law change could lead to people heading to Scotland from elsewhere in the UK to change their gender.

The source ultimately claimed Scottish ministers were wanting to paint Scotland as a “haven of inclusivity” in comparison to a “nasty Westminster”.

The legislation has been years in the making, with public consultation first happening in 2017.

Consultation was even eventually launched by the UK Government in 2019, under Theresa May, looking to make UK-wide changes to the Gender Recognition Act.

However, later that year, the Conservative Party failed to commit to the issue under Boris Johnson’s leadership.