Scottish Trans, part of LGBTI human rights charity Equality Network, believe that the Scottish Government should appeal the decision of the Court of Session that the UK Government acted lawfully when it issued a section 35 order to block the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill from gaining royal assent and becoming law.
The charity says that challenging the decision in favour of the Secretary of State’s block of the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill is the only way to ensure that trans men and women across Scotland will be able to access a fair and simple process to be recognised as who they truly are.
Despite ruling in the UK Government’s favour, the charity notes that the Court, and both the UK and Scottish Governments, were all agreed that the Bill was a devolved issue that the Scottish Parliament had the power to legislate on. They were also all agreed that the case was not about the merits of the Bill itself – but instead about how wide the power in section 35 of the Scotland Act is in allowing the Secretary of State for Scotland to block a bill passed by the Scottish Parliament.
Scottish Trans were given permission to act as third-party ‘public interest interveners’ in the case, and submitted written evidence to the court about why they believe that the UK Government’s reasons for blocking the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill were wrong or inadequate.
Scottish Trans believes that the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill will simply have a positive impact on the small number of trans men and women who wish to update the sex recorded on their birth certificate to reflect who they are and how they live their lives. They do not believe that any of the negative effects that the UK Government is claiming would result from the Bill becoming law would be realised. They believe that the Scottish Government should appeal this decision to a higher court.
Vic Valentine, Scottish Trans Manager said:
“The Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill would significantly improve the process that trans men and women in Scotland use to update the sex recorded on their birth certificates, so that at important moments of their lives, such as registering to be married, they would be able to show a document that reflects who they truly are.
“The GRR Bill is important to trans people, and the court judgement is clear that it is not about the merits of the bill. Nor was the judgement about whether the UK Government made the right decision, or considered all the evidence, in blocking the bill. In our view they did not. The judgement is simply about whether the UKG has the power under section 35 of the Scotland Act, to block it, and the court has concluded that they do.
“We are really concerned that this judgement, if left unchallenged, means that trans people will continue to have to use the intrusive, unfair and expensive process for being legally recognised as who we truly are that a majority of MSPs voted to significantly improve last year – and so we urge the Scottish Government to appeal.”