Welsh minister calls for ‘kindness’ after cruel Tory block on Scotland gender bill

A photo of the Welsh Flag with added rainbow Pride colours

The finance minister for Wales, Vaughan Gething, has criticised the UK government for blocking Scotland’s gender reform bill.

In a press conference on Tuesday (17 January), the finance minister supported called for more Welsh power to make it easier for trans and non-binary people in Wales, to obtain a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC), allowing them to marry and claim their pension – among other things – with dignity.

Several months after an 86-39 vote win to make obtaining a certificate easier for trans people and lower the age it was available to 16, the UK government blocked the Gender Recognition Reform (GRR) bill from passing on 17 January.

Wales’ First Minister, Mark Drakeford, previously stated he supports Scotland’s gender self-identifying system and would welcome a similar system in Wales.

“The first minister has been clear that we don’t have the powers, but we would like the powers and we would consider how to legislate if we had,” Gething said.

“Now, I actually think that the trans community are being used as a wedge issue. This is an area where you need more understanding and kindness, and the way this has been approached is an ideal way to do neither of those things. I understand why people are upset and why passions are high.”

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He continued: “This is why our proposals for reforming the union are real and serious. For people like me who believe in the future of the union, we need a union that works. Where you don’t have an approach where the UK government is the sole and only arbiter.”

Other parties hailing from Wales also shared critical opinions about the government block. Plaid Cymru’s Westminster leader, Liz Saville Roberts, said: “This is a calculated attack on devolution, democracy and trans rights.

“It is increasingly clear that this tired and bitter Tory government will weaponise any issue – no matter how sensitive – to subvert devolution. If this was really about protecting the Equality Act, ministers would be referring this issue to the courts,” Roberts continued.

Scottish secretary Alister Jack confirmed Monday (16 January) that he will use a Section 35 order under the Scotland Act to prevent the Scottish bill from becoming law because he is “concerned that this legislation would have an adverse impact on the operation of Great Britain-wide equalities legislation”.

Prime minister Rishi Sunak and Labour leader Keir Starmer have both said they have “concerns” over the impact the bill would have on UK equality laws – although neither has specified fully what those are.