Mike Freer and Crispin Blunt among 20-plus LGBTQ+ Tory MPs to vote for blocking Scottish gender bill

Images of Conservative Party MPs Crispin Blunt, Mike Freer and Michael Fabricant superimposed against a backdrop of Westminster and the Scottish flag

More than 20 LGBTQ+ Conservative MPs voted in favour of blocking Scotland’s gender reform bill. 

The MPs, including Crispin Blunt, Antony Higginbotham and Michael Fabricant, toed the party line and voted in favour of invoking Section 35 of the 1998 Scotland Act to veto Scotland’s gender law reforms. 

The Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) bill – which was passed by the Scottish parliament in December – was heralded as a “landmark” moment for trans rights. 

Several weeks after the 86-39 vote win, which would make obtaining a certificate easier for trans people and lower the age that it was available from 18 to 16, the UK government announced on Monday (16 January) that it would block the legislation from gaining royal assent

In the House of Commons the following day, the secretary of state for Scotland, Alister Jack, confirmed the government would use Section 35 to halt the bill’s passage

The use of a Section 35 order to prevent a Scottish bill from becoming law is an unprecedented move – this is the first time it’s been invoked since the opening of the Scottish parliament in 1999.

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Following Jack’s statement, where he outlined the government’s “concerns”, a vote “to note” the motion was held. 

No LGBTQ+ Tory MPs voted against blocking Scotland gender bill

Of 355 Conservative MPs, 311 voted in favour of blocking the bill while 40 failed to register their vote. Those who did not turn up included women and equalities minister Kemi Badenoch, former prime minister Theresa May and the current PM Rishi Sunak. 

May’s absence was notable as she promised to streamline the process for obtaining a gender-recognition certificate (GRC) while in office – plans that were dropped by her successor Boris Johnson. 

Of those who voted in favour of Section 35, 21 of them are LGBTQ+. 

A further four LGBTQ+ Tories abstained from voting altogether. 

Who voted for Section 35? 

  • Antony Higginbotham – Burnley 
  • Chris Clarkson – Heywood and Middleton
  • Crispin Blunt – Reigate 
  • Damian Moore – Southport 
  • Daniel Kawczynski – Shrewsbury and Atcham 
  • David Mundell – Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale
  • Dehenna Davison – Bishop Auckland 
  • Gary Sambrook – Birmingham Northfield 
  • Iain Stewart – Milton Keynes South 
  • Jacob Young – Redcar 
  • Kieran Mullan – Crewe and Nantwich 
  • Lee Rowley – North East Derbyshire
  • Mark Fletcher – Bolsover
  • Michael Fabricant – Litchfield 
  • Mike Freer – Finchley and Golders Green 
  • Nick Gibb – Bognor Regis and Littlehampton
  • Paul Holmes – Eastleigh 
  • Peter Gibson – Darlington
  • Scott Benton – Blackpool South 
  • Stuart Andrew – Pudsey 
  • William Wragg – Hazel Grove 

Who abstained? 

  • Elliot Colburn – Carshalton and Wallington
  • Jamie Wallis – Bridgend
  • Mark Menzies – Fylde
  • Nigel Evans – Ribble Valley 

On the opposite benches, 11 of Labour’s 195 MPs broke rank and went against Keir Starmer, by voting to oppose the government’s decision

Most Labour MPs abstained from the vote, possibly to enable the standing order to pass without issue. 

One rebel Labour MP, Zarah Sultana, who represents Coventry South, branded the government’s decision to block the bill “disgraceful”. 

Writing on Twitter, she said: “This unprecedented step treats trans people as a political football, targeting one of the most marginalised groups in the country.

“Everyone who believes in LGBTQ+ rights must oppose it.”

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