GRA reforms Scotland: Call to pause Scottish gender reforms named as ‘attack on trans rights’ by Stonewall

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Stonewall has named a call to pause Scottish Government reforms to the gender recognition process as ‘an attack on trans rights’.

It comes as the Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) wrote that Scottish ministers should undertake “more detailed consideration” around proposed changes to gender recognition reform before advancing legislation through Holyrood.

In an SNP and Scottish Greens’ power-sharing agreement last year, both parties agreed that a bill to reform the Gender Recognition Act (GRA) will be introduced to the Scottish Parliament in the first year of the parliamentary session.

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The Gender Recognition Act 2004 (GRA) is the law that governs how trans people can get their gender identity legally recognised. The current process means trans people have to go through a series of medical assessments and interviews with psychiatrists in order to ‘prove’ their gender identity.

It requires trans people to have a formal diagnosis of ‘gender dysphoria’, to live in their ‘acquired gender’ for two years, and hand over evidence to a gender recognition panel (composed of clinicians who have never met the applicant) who have the power to approve, or deny, an application.

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The reform hopes to make it easier for people to change their legally recognized gender.

Proposed changes would mean applicants would no longer have to go before the UK Gender Recognition Panel or produce a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria.

They would have to make a solemn statutory declaration that they have been living in their acquired gender for three months – down from two years – and intend to do so permanently.

A further three-month “reflection period” would mean the process would take a minimum of six months.

Yet, the EHRC, funded by the Government Equalities Office, wrote to Shona Robison to outline their concerns on the reform.

In a letter to social justice secretary, the EHRC said the “established legal concept of sex” provided the “correct balanced legal framework that protects everyone”.

Stonewall has claimed the EHRC’s approach focuses on ‘pleasing a noisy minority of anti-trans activists’ which ‘effectively seeks to exclude trans people from improved rights and protections’.

Stonewall also called on the First Minister to “recognize and protect trans people, and progress rights for our communities by supporting these key pieces of legislation.”

Prominent LGBT group the Equality Network accused the EHRC, of ​​being “UK government appointees” who were “failing to stand up for equality for trans people”.

The EHRC is funded by the Government Equalities Office, but insists that it operates independently of ministerial control as a regulator of equality and human rights law.

Stonewall has called on the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions to ‘urgently review EHRC’ as it claims the body has ‘violated’ its principles.

Stonewall states: “The EHRC has a statutory duty to enforce the Equality Act 2010 and protect equality and human rights across all nine protected characteristics, including sexual orientation and gender reassignment. These statements do the opposite, by actively standing in the way of improving the rights of trans people.”

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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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