Keir Starmer told to ‘learn the lesson from Scotland’ over gender law reform

Keir Starmer looking off into the distance.

Anas Sarwar, leader of the Scottish Labour party, has urged Keir Starmer to reconsider his position on trans rights.

Sarwar said that, if the party wins the next UK general election, Labour must “learn the lesson from Scotland” by allowing 16 year olds to change their gender markers.

Starmer drew criticism for his reaction after the Conservative government blocked a Gender Recognition Reform bill that Scottish politicians approved in 2022, in January 2023.

The bill would have made it easier for trans people to gain a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC), but Labour leader Starmer told his MPs to abstain from voting on the use of a Section 35 order which prevented the bill passing into law. Only 11 Labour politicians rebelled.

Since then, he has made several damning anti-trans comments, including claims that “for 99.9 per cent of women, it’s completely biological“.

Sarwar, who has led the Scottish Labour party since 2021, told The Telegraph Starmer needed to build a consensus on the subject, while affording greater protections for trans people.

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When asked about his recommendations for his Westminster counterpart, Sarwar said: “Look to see what more you can do within the existing legislation to give greater protections and greater reassurance.

“There is a way forward here as long as you look to build the consensus. At this moment in time, I don’t see either of our governments trying to do that.

Sarwar also spoke about Starmer’s reported belief that 16 year olds aren’t old enough to make the decision to change their gender.

He said that there “isn’t a disagreement” between the two on the “substance” of the issue, but that they disagree on the age limit.

“Where Keir has a different view, is around what age that should come into play in terms of the GRR Bill.”

Keir Starmer: Children shouldn’t make ‘these important decisions’

Starmer has said on a number of occasions that he feels “very strongly” that under-18s aren’t capable of making such decisions on their own.

During an interview with Mumsnet in October 2022, he said: “Children shouldn’t be making these very important decisions without [the] consent of their parents. I say that as a matter of principle as a parent.”

“This argument that children can make decisions without the consent of parents is one I just don’t agree with at all.”

This goes against the concept of Gillick competence, which can be used to determine whether young people can consent to healthcare.

Additionally, NHS guidelines state that children under the age of 16 can consent to treatment if they are deemed intelligent enough to do so.

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