Gender recognition Scotland: EHRC says ‘lack of certainty of practical consequences’ remains over GRA reform despite delay concerns


The comments from the public body – responsible for the enforcement of equality and non-discrimination laws in England, Scotland and Wales – were made during the Equalities, Human Rights and Civil Justice Committee at the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday.

The committee heard evidence from trans rights groups and the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) on the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill which is currently being considered by parliament.

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The bill, introduced to Holyrood in March, seeks to ‘streamline’ the process for a person to receive a gender recognition certificate by introducing new measures such as removing the requirement for a medical diagnosis.

Melanie Field, chief strategy and policy officer for the EHRC, said more time should be taken to fully understand the impacts of the legislation.

However, the EHRC has said there are still questions around “practical consequences” of the reform which has sparked outrage amongst gender critical groups.

Previously, the EHRC altered its position on amending the process for a person to change their legal sex after the Scottish Government consulted on the reform.

Speaking at the committee, Melanie Field, chief strategy and policy officer for the EHRC said: “In the case of reform of the Gender Recognition Act, we reached the position that more detailed consideration is needed before legislative change is made.

“This is because of the continued lack of certainty about the practical consequences for individuals and society of extending the ability to change legal sex from a defined group with a recognized medical condition who have demonstrated their commitment and ability to live in their acquired gender to a wider group.

“Questions continue to be raised in different quarters about potential consequences, for example in relation to the collection and use of data, participation and drug testing in competitive sport, measures to address barriers facing women and practices within the criminal justice system.”

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However, charities and organizations such as the Scottish Trans Alliance, LGBT Youth Scotland and Stonewall Scotland voiced their concerns for further delaying the reform citing the impact it has on those within the trans community.

The bill hopes to decrease the time a trans person has to live in their acquired gender from two years to three months with an additional three-month reflection period.

Yet, groups such as Trans Alliance, LGBT Youth Scotland and Stonewall Scotland agreed they found the period “unnecessary”.

LGBT Youth Scotland’s Dr Mhairi Crawford suggested this period should be waived in circumstances such as when someone is approaching the end of their life.

Vic Valentine, trans manager for the Scottish Trans Alliance said: “It’s not necessary and it’s slowing up applications.

“Most trans people at the point where they are applying for legal gender recognition have done an inordinate amount of reflecting.”

Vic Valentine raised other concerns with the bill such as the reform having no provision for non-binary people.

The reform would also allow applicants to be aged 16 and over – instead of the current 18 and over age of approval.

However, Dr Mhairi Crawford said the “bill doesn’t go far enough” with its inclusion of young people as she supports action to lower the age.

Dr Crawford said research LGBT Youth Scotland has conducted shows most trans people “come out” at age 15.


www.scotsman.com

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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