Trans activists blasts Tory government’s ‘outrageous’ response to Scotland’s gender law reform

Kemi Badenoch, trans flag and Scotland flag

Trans advocacy groups have condemned the Tory government’s response to Scotland’s planned reforms of the Gender Recognition Act (GRA) following the passing of vital amendments.

In December 2022, the Scottish parliament passed reforms to the 2004 Gender Recognition Act (GRA) to make obtaining a Gender Recognition Certificates (GRCs) easier in the region.

It was a rare positive moment that was widely celebrated by the LGBTQ+ community.

However, following this political victory for trans people in Scotland, the UK government has announced a review of approved GRCs – which are used to update gender markers on legal documents – from territories outside of England and Wales in a written statement on Monday (9 January).

It has sparked fears a GRC obtained Scotland may not be recognised in England and Wales.

Trans groups have told PinkNews they are “concerned” by this “outrageous” stance from the UK government.

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Women and equalities minister Kemi Badenoch said changes in GRA systems from territories outside of England and Wales did not meet “equivalently rigorous” screenings for approving GRCs for trans people.

Kemi Badenoch walks across the streets of Number 10, wearing a black blazer.
Kemi Badenoch’s GRC review has led to fears over Scotland’s GRC eligibility. (Getty)

The statement was met with unanimous scepticism from supporters of the reform – which will see the age limit for obtaining a GRC in Scotland lowered from 18 to 16.

Gendered Intelligence said it was “concerned, if not surprised” by the news of the review.

“Ongoing reviews of the Gender Recognition Act are important and, in fact, the current review is two years overdue,” a spokesperson added.

“But we find it suspicious that the government have developed an interest now that it can be used punitively against Scotland.”

The last review of approved GRCs in territories beyond England and Wales occurred in 2011, when it blocked those issued in Montenegro and Latvia.

But, as Gendered Intelligence adds, there are now concerns that the review could be used to remove countries that adopt the self-identification model now supported in Scotland.

“It will be interesting to see if all of them are removed from future versions – or if this specifically targets Scottish trans people.

“It’s important to remember in the debate that will inevitably follow this announcement that legal gender is just that, and has no bearing on a person’s identity,” the nonprofit clarified.

“Having a Gender Recognition Certificate doesn’t make you more or less of a man or a woman.”

It noted that, despite the ongoing debate, there is yet to be a pathway for the legal recognition of non-binary people to use gender-neutral markers in the UK.

“Trans people deserve to be able to be born, to marry, and to die with the same ease and accessibility as everyone else. We applaud the hard work of our colleagues in Scotland in the ongoing fight for equality.”

UK government could block Scotland GRA reforms

Prior to the announcement, it was previously reported that the government is considering blocking the reform by stopping its royal assent.

Prime minister Rishi Sunak stated his willingness to do so on 23 December, following the passing of the Scotland gender law reform in a vote of 86 to 39.

“I think it is completely reasonable for the UK government to have a look at [the bill], understand what the consequences are for women and children’s safety in the rest of the UK, and then decide on what the appropriate course of action is.”

The Sunday Times further reported that the move to block the bill could go ahead in a Saturday (7 January) article.

LGBTQ+ advocacy group TransActualUK chair Helen Belcher told PinkNews that, if it were to go ahead, the move would be “outrageous” and “likely provoke a constitutional crisis as well”.

“There is no evidence that this bill touches on any ‘reserved matter’. The SNP went to extraordinary lengths to ensure that,” she added.

“So what, then, would be the cause? That recognising trans people’s gender is a matter of national security? How ridiculous!”

The LGBTQ+ charity Stonewall also responded to the reports, saying that the move would come across as “spiteful” and would be a “mistake”.

“It would also profoundly undermine relationships with the Scottish government and damage the UK’s international reputation as a rights-respecting nation.”

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