Academics call on Scottish government to uphold Equality Act amid claim of ideologically-driven lobbying from trans rights advocates

Academics have called on the Scottish government to uphold sex-based protections in the Equality Act 2010 and to facilitate open debate on sex and gender identity issues in a paper that claims democratic policy-making has become vulnerable to ideologically-driven lobbying, namely from transgender rights advocates.

Policies representing a “profound conceptual change” in our understanding about what it means to be a man or woman premised on ideas about self-defined gender identity have been introduced “without due diligence, democratic oversight or scrutiny”, the paper argues.

Published in Edinburgh University’s journal Scottish Affairs, it examines policy changes in prisons and proposed changes to the census, examples of “policy capture” by lobbying groups.

Authors Dr Kath Murray and Lucy Hunter Blackburn say that in both cases policymakers have been excessively influenced by trans rights advocates and have failed to consider how gender self-declaration could impact other groups.

“The analysis hows how decision making has been directed towards the interests of one specific interest group, to the detriment of another, women and girls”, they state.

It argues that “a small number of influential actors appear to have secured a monopoly on how sex and gender identity are understood within Scottish policy-making.”

The paper states that the fact “such a paradigm shift has taken place without formal scrutiny or proper monitoring” ahead of any legal change “raises serious questions” about the effect of gender self-identification on women and “the adequacy of institutional safeguards against well-organised lobbying”.

The authors write: “This is now a significant challenge for the Scottish government, which needs to review its policies, make clear its commitment to upholding the sex-based protections in the Equality Act 2010, and find a way to allow for open debate on sex and gender identity issues.

“The dynamics and processes that have allowed this change to happen on such a scale with so little scrutiny for so many years, also deserve much closer attention, to understand the specific vulnerabilities of women’s rights, and the vulnerabilities of democratic policy-making more generally to ideologically-driven lobbying.”