ADVERTISEMENTREMOVE AD

Scotland Makes Changing One's Gender Easier: Why Rishi Sunak Wants To Block It

The Scottish Parliament approved a self-identification system, which makes changing one's gender less intrusive.

Updated
Gender
3 min read
story-hero-img
i
Aa
Aa
Small
Aa
Medium
Aa
Large
Hindi Female

After a lengthy debate, the Scottish Parliament on 22 December, approved the controversial Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill, which makes changing one's gender easier and less intrusive in the country.

But just a day later, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said that it was "completely reasonable" for his government to examine the new Bill and block Royal Assent to it, if necessary.

The Bill in question introduces a self-identification system for trans people to legally change their gender assigned at birth by obtaining a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC). It also lowers the age that people can apply for a GRC to 16 and removes the need for a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria to change one's gender.

Scotland, the only country to have introduced this simplified system of transitioning in the United Kingdom, has allowed people to legally change their gender assigned at birth since 2005.

But what exactly does the Bill do? Why has the UK government raised concerns about it? Can Rishi Sunak block the Bill?

Scotland Makes Changing One's Gender Easier: Why Rishi Sunak Wants To Block It

  1. 1. What Does the Bill Propose?

    The Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill essentially allows the following:

    • Removes the need for a psychiatric diagnosis of gender dysphoria in order to obtain a gender recognition certificate (GRC), which helps in the legal recognition of one's acquired gender.

    • Extends the application process to 16 and 17-year-olds for the first time.

    • Reduce the time someone must have been permanently living in their acquired gender before they can apply – from two years to three months, or six months for those aged 16 and 17.

    • Offers a three-month reflection period during which an individual can change their mind.

    • De-transition by going through the process again.

    Expand
  2. 2. Why Is Rishi Sunak Govt Concerned?

    The Conservative Party-led UK government says it is apprehensive about the impact the Bill would have on the safety of women and children.

    The PM, during a visit to a homeless shelter in London on Friday, said, "Lots of people have got concerns about this new bill in Scotland, about the impact it will have on women's and children's safety."

    "I think it is completely reasonable for the UK government to have a look at it, understand what the consequences are for women and children's safety in the rest of the UK, and then decide on what the appropriate course of action is."
    Rishi Sunak, UK Prime Minister

    The UK government as well as other opponents of the Bill, including nine MSPs of the ruling SNP, contend that there are not enough safeguards to protect women and girls from predatory men who may change their gender to gain access to facilities like women's toilets and prisons.

    The Scottish Bill may, therefore, be in conflict with the 2010 Equality Act, which is applicable across the UK, they argue.

    In a statement on Tuesday, UK Equalities Minister Kemi Badenoch said, "The Scottish Government has not addressed the full implications of their bill – especially on the lives of women and girls. The UK Government is now looking at provisions that can prompt reconsideration and allow MSPs to address these issues."

    The UK government is also concerned about the potential impact of people with GRCs moving from Scotland to other parts of the UK, where a different system will still be in place.

    Expand
  3. 3. Can UK Govt Block the Bill?

    The Sunak government could prevent the Bill from becoming law by blocking Royal Assent – the permission granted by the King before it can become an Act in Scotland.

    As per UK law, the government can also get the Scottish legislation struck down by arguing that it is in conflict with the Equality Act. This power, however, has never been used before.

    Expand

What Does the Bill Propose?

The Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill essentially allows the following:

  • Removes the need for a psychiatric diagnosis of gender dysphoria in order to obtain a gender recognition certificate (GRC), which helps in the legal recognition of one's acquired gender.

  • Extends the application process to 16 and 17-year-olds for the first time.

  • Reduce the time someone must have been permanently living in their acquired gender before they can apply – from two years to three months, or six months for those aged 16 and 17.

  • Offers a three-month reflection period during which an individual can change their mind.

  • De-transition by going through the process again.

ADVERTISEMENTREMOVE AD

The Scottish government said it drew up the Bill because it believes that the existing gender change process can be intrusive and discourage people from applying for a GRC.

The Nicola Sturgeon government, however, emphasised that "it will be a criminal offence for applicants to make a false application," and that they may potentially face up to two years in prison.

The new rules are expected to come into effect sometime next year.

0

Why Is Rishi Sunak Govt Concerned?

The Conservative Party-led UK government says it is apprehensive about the impact the Bill would have on the safety of women and children.

The PM, during a visit to a homeless shelter in London on Friday, said, "Lots of people have got concerns about this new bill in Scotland, about the impact it will have on women's and children's safety."

"I think it is completely reasonable for the UK government to have a look at it, understand what the consequences are for women and children's safety in the rest of the UK, and then decide on what the appropriate course of action is."
Rishi Sunak, UK Prime Minister

The UK government as well as other opponents of the Bill, including nine MSPs of the ruling SNP, contend that there are not enough safeguards to protect women and girls from predatory men who may change their gender to gain access to facilities like women's toilets and prisons.

The Scottish Bill may, therefore, be in conflict with the 2010 Equality Act, which is applicable across the UK, they argue.

In a statement on Tuesday, UK Equalities Minister Kemi Badenoch said, "The Scottish Government has not addressed the full implications of their bill – especially on the lives of women and girls. The UK Government is now looking at provisions that can prompt reconsideration and allow MSPs to address these issues."

The UK government is also concerned about the potential impact of people with GRCs moving from Scotland to other parts of the UK, where a different system will still be in place.

ADVERTISEMENTREMOVE AD

Can UK Govt Block the Bill?

The Sunak government could prevent the Bill from becoming law by blocking Royal Assent – the permission granted by the King before it can become an Act in Scotland.

As per UK law, the government can also get the Scottish legislation struck down by arguing that it is in conflict with the Equality Act. This power, however, has never been used before.

ADVERTISEMENTREMOVE AD

The Scottish government, meanwhile, says it would push back if the UK government attempts to block the Bill. It argues that the new Bill wouldn't drastically affect the Equality Act and that "exceptions barring trans people from single-sex space in some circumstances in the Equality Act will stand," according to BBC.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said she would "never apologise for trying to spread equality, not reduce it, in our country."

Shona Robison, Scotland's Social Justice Secretary, further told BBC, "The bill as passed is absolutely within legislative competence and, of course, was backed by an overwhelming majority with support from all parties."

She added that "any attempt by the UK government to undermine what is, after all, the democratic will of the Scottish parliament, will be vigorously contested by the Scottish government."

(With inputs from BBC.)

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

Read Latest News and Breaking News at The Quint, browse for more from gender

Topics:  Nicola Sturgeon   UK Government   Scotland 

Published: 
Speaking truth to power requires allies like you.
Become a Member
3 months
12 months
12 months
Check Member Benefits
Read More
×
×