Labour MP Kate Osborne blasts Tory government for ‘playing politics with trans people’s lives’ 

A screenshot of Labour MP Kate Osbourne wearing a white shirt and black suit jacket as she sits at a desk with papers in front of her during a women and equalities committee meeting

At a committee meeting over the Scotland gender reform bill, Labour MP Kate Osborne criticised the government for “playing politics with trans people’s lives”. 

A one-off session of the Women and Equalities Committee was held on Tuesday (31 January) which sought to discuss the bill and its interplay with the Equality Act. 

The Scotland gender bill was passed by the Scottish Parliament in December by 86 votes to 39, and would make it easier for trans people to obtain a Gender Recognition Certificate. 

The UK government, however, blocked the bill from getting royal assent by using Section 35 of the Scotland Act – an unprecedented political move that was a first-of-its-kind in the history of devolution. 

Osborne, who represents Jarrow, attended the meeting in order to pose several questions to witnesses who provided evidence to the committee. 

She was one of just 11 Labour MPs who voted against Section 35 on 17 January when the rest of the party abstained. 

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Before asking questions, Osborne slammed the government for its attitudes towards transgender people and likened them to the discriminatory policies of the Thatcher era.  

The MP said: “I just want to say that I think that many people, including myself, see the government and others playing politics with trans rights and the issues around it. 

“I think the fear-mongering and the hostile environment reminds me of the days that I was fighting section 28 in the 1980s. 

“I think it’s quite aggressive and extremely well in where we are now.”

In one question Kate Osborne posed, she asked Lord Falconer of Thoroton if the Scotland gender bill would have the “practical effect of bestowing one legal sex on a person in Scotland while the same person could have a different sex in a different part of the UK?”

Lord Falconer responded by stating that there would not be two systems in place if the UK government “took steps to say they would recognise a certificate, whether it came from Scotland or whether it came from England”. 

The one-off meeting was held to discuss the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill. (PinkNews)

“Then,” Falconer continued, “you wouldn’t have two systems. Anybody with a GRC, whether it be on the less strenuous basis in Scotland, or the more strenuous basis in England, they’d all be treated as whatever the certificate said. But that’s not the legal position. 

“The position at the moment is that if that bill in Scotland were to become law, those certificates in Scotland would only be recognised in Scotland. 

“It would need a piece of legislation or some other act by the Scottish and the UK government to have [the GRCs] recognised in England.”