Judicial review challenge over GRR Bill launched
The Scottish government will challenge the Secretary of State for Scotland’s use of Section 35 of the Scotland Act to stop the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill going forward to Royal Assent following the Scottish Parliament’s approval of the legislation in December 2022.
Social Justice Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville has informed the Scottish Parliament that the Scottish government will lodge a petition for a judicial review of the Secretary of State for Scotland’s use of Section 35.
Ms Somerville said: “The Gender Recognition Reform Bill was passed by an overwhelming majority of the Scottish Parliament, with support from members of all parties.
“The use of Section 35 is an unprecedented challenge to the Scottish Parliament’s ability to legislate on clearly devolved matters and it risks setting a dangerous constitutional precedent.
“In seeking to uphold the democratic will of the Parliament and defend devolution, Scottish Ministers will lodge a petition for a judicial review of the Secretary of State for Scotland’s decision.
“The UK government gave no advance warning of their use of the power, and neither did they ask for any amendments to the Bill throughout its nine month passage through Parliament. Our offers to work with the UK government on potential changes to the Bill have been refused outright by the Secretary of State, so legal challenge is our only reasonable means of resolving this situation.
“It is important to have clarity on the interpretation and scope of the Section 35 power and its impact on devolution. These matters should be legally tested in the courts.”
Responding on behalf of MurrayBlackburnMackenzie, Dr Lucy Hunter Blackburn said: “Last week, in a widely publicised intervention, the EHRC advised that it would be helpful to amend the Equality Act to make clear that ‘sex’ means ‘biological sex’.
“The Scottish government has yet to comment on this. Instead, the First Minister regrettably appears interested only in taking potentially protracted legal proceedings to assert the Parliament’s right to pass the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill, whatever its effects.
“That he has nothing to say about the substantive argument that it will adversely impact on the operation of the Equality Act for women sits uneasily with his commitment last month “to advance women’s rights.”