Gender Recognition Reform Bill ‘risks becoming bad law’

Gender Recognition Reform Bill 'risks becoming bad law'

Nine groups with concerns about plans to allow individuals to change their sex in law by statutory declaration have written to MSPs warning that the Gender Recognition Reform Bill “risks becoming another piece of bad law”.

In a letter to Joe FitzPatrick MSP, convener of the Equalities, Human Rights and Civil Justice Committee, the groups highlighted the Scottish government’s “inadequate policy processes, its failure to engender an atmosphere conducive to a civilised public debate and its dismissal of concerns raised about the potential impact on women and vulnerable young people”.

The letter was signed by Bayswater Support Group, Fair Play For Women, For Women Scotland, LGB Alliance Scotland, MurrayBlackburnMackenzie, Sole Sisters, Woman’s Place UK, Women and Girls in Scotland and Women Speak Scotland.

Susan Smith, co-director of For Women Scotland, said: “It is insulting for the First Minister to dismiss our criticisms as ‘not valid’, and to claim that reform ‘does not change in any way, shape or form any legal protections that women have’ without explaining why. We hold the Scottish government responsible for the atmosphere here. Claims it makes to have sought to build consensus here are patently untrue.”

Lucy Hunter Blackburn, policy analyst at MurrayBlackburnMackenzie, said: “As currently drafted, the legislation carries a high risk of becoming another piece of bad law, with unintended consequences which will be most damaging to women and to young people at their most vulnerable. The Bill will put the effectiveness of the Parliament’s processes in the spotlight. We hope MSPs from all parties will now engage seriously with this legislation in a way that has not yet been done.”

Kiri Tunks, co-founder and director of Woman’s Place UK, said: “It is staggering that the Scottish government should go to the trouble of eliciting the views of over 30,000 individuals across two consultations over a four and a half year period only to ignore evidence presented to them. It now falls to members of the Scottish Parliament to address the multitude of shortcomings contain in this draft legislation, which will have long-lasting, damaging consequences for women throughout the UK.”

The Equalities, Human Rights and Civil Justice Committee will take oral evidence from three of the nine signatories to the letter – For Women Scotland, LGB Alliance Scotland and MurrayBlackburnMackenzie – at its meeting tomorrow.

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