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Politicians and activists march on Downing Street to protest blocking of Scotland’s gender bill

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A photo shows trans activists holding up signs reading "trans rights now."

Hundreds of LGBTQ+ activists protested the Conservative government for blocking the Scotland gender reform during a protest on Downing Street on Wednesday (18 January).

The protest was scheduled by LGBTQ+ group London Trans Pride following the government’s announcement that it would block Gender Recognition Act (GRA) reforms passed by Scotland in December.

A smaller gathering was held at Downing Street on Tuesday.

Scottish secretary Jack Alister announced the government would block the bill by making a Section 35 order after vague “concerns” were raised by political officials.

The decision to block the bill – which would have made it easier for trans people to obtain a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC) – was met with overwhelming pushback from trans and LGBTQ+ advocates who supported its reforms.

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In an Instagram post, London Trans Pride wrote it was “organising an emergency protest… to show solidarity for Scotland’s independence and autonomy.”

“We will take action and have our voices heard!” The group added.

Independent media group What The Trans estimated that at least 500 protestors joined the impromptu march at 10 Downing Street, waving colourful signs calling on the UK government to reconsider its decision.

They included prominent voices for the trans community and supportive politicians, including SNP MPs Amy Callaghan and Kirsten Oswald, and trans allies from the Labour Party.

Nottingham East Labour MP Nadia Whittome – one of only 11 Labour MPs to vote against blocking the bill – was also among the crowd, joining members of LGBT+ Labour to speak out against the injustice.

“The trans community is not collateral damage,” she said. “Trans rights are not a side issue. And trans people deserve a government that stands with them.”

Scottish advocacy groups praised the march as a “fantastic” display of the community’s solidarity for trans rights and the importance of simply “showing up.”

Earlier this week, Whittome called on her own party to take action against transphobia within its ranks.

Coventry South MP Zarah Sultana also attended, saying: “Even with transphobic hate crimes rocketing 56% in a year, the Tory government has chosen to whip-up more hate, using trans people as a political football.”

Edinburgh GRA reform protest set for 19 January

A similar protest is set to take place in Edinburgh at the Queen Elizabeth House on Thursday (19 January).

Organised by the LGBTQ+ arms of the Greens, SNP, Lib Dems and Labour, the event will also signal the sheer volume of anger felt by members of the public and activists toward the UK government’s decision.

The Rainbow Greens announced the march on the same day as the announcement of the blockade, saying in a tweet that it was “an attack on trans people and the Scottish Parliament.”

“We will not stand for this,” it continued.

“Protect trans rights. Defend democracy.”

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