Gender reform not being ‘rushed through’ Holyrood, insists Sturgeon

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Nicola Sturgeon has rejected accusations that controversial gender reforms are being “rushed through” the Scottish Parliament.

The Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill is currently working its way through Holyrood. It proposes to remove the requirement for a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria as a condition of acquiring a gender recognition certificate.

The Bill would also drop the minimum age of applicants from 18 to 16, as well as limiting the amount of time most applicants need to live in their acquired gender to three months, with a further three-month reflection period – down from two years.

Concerns have been raised, most recently from a UN Rapporteur, about the impact of the Bill on women and girls – but the First Minister said on Thursday they are “not well founded”.

He said: “It is far better that this Parliament and this Government makes good laws rather than quick laws.

“We want to make legislation with full and proper consideration of all of the implications, but for some reason the Government seems determined to rush ahead at full speed to put this Bill through this month that experts and women’s groups say could have potentially damaging consequences.”

Responding, Ms Sturgeon said the legislation had been subject to two separate public consultations before its introduction earlier this year.

“Regardless of any individual’s view on this legislation, one thing that cannot be said with any credibility or basis in fact is that it is being rushed through this Parliament,” she said.

Nicola Sturgeon
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the legislation is not being rushed (PA)

“This has not been rushed, this has been done carefully, and rightly so.”

In a letter to the UK Government, Ms Alsalem said she shared the view that the change could “open the door” for violent men to abuse the system in order to attack women, adding it “presents potential risks to the safety of women in all their diversity (including women born female, transwomen, and gender non-conforming women)”.

She did however welcome the spirit of the changes, which the letter said would bring current legislation “more in line with international standards”.

The First Minister told MSPs that Social Justice Secretary Shona Robison has responded in a 13-page letter to Ms Alsalem’s concerns, and will meet the Special Rapporteur next week.

“It is because we respect that person and the role they hold that we are treating these concerns so seriously,” Ms Sturgeon said.

“There are other voices in this debate that also speak from a lot of experience and expertise and it’s not right to dismiss them either, because they are people who work with women who are subject to male violence every single day of the week.”

The First Minister also reiterated her belief that it is predatory men who abuse women, and in tackling such behaviour, trans people must not be stigmatised.

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