Scottish ministers to abandon UK gender block appeal

  • By Georgia Roberts
  • BBC Scotland Westminster correspondent

Image source, Getty Images

Image caption,

Campaigners have held rallies outside the Scottish Parliament about the reforms

The Scottish government is set to abandon its legal action over the UK government’s veto of gender reform legislation, the BBC understands.

Ministers have until 29 December to appeal the Court of Session’s ruling that the UK government’s use of Section 35 of the Scotland Act had been lawful.

A statement at Holyrood confirming the decision is expected on Wednesday.

Scottish Secretary Alister Jack previously urged the Scottish government to avoid any further action.

The Scottish Parliament passed legislation making it easier for people to change their legally-recognised sex last year.

It was then blocked by the UK government from becoming law, as they argued that it would have an impact on equality laws across Great Britain.

The Court of Session in Edinburgh rejected a Scottish government legal challenge to the veto earlier this month, leading ministers to consider a further appeal to the Supreme Court in London.

Mr Jack claimed such a move would be a waste of taxpayers’ money and cost “the thick end of £2million”.

The legislation received cross-party support in Holyrood, passing by 86 votes to 39 after a highly-charged debate.

Supporters for the reforms have argued it would make the process of obtaining a gender recognition certificate (GRC) easier and less traumatic for trans people.

Image source, Getty Images

Campaigners against the legislation claim the legislation could risk the safety of women and girls in same-sex spaces such as hospital wards and refuges.

First Minister Humza Yousaf called the Court of Session ruling a “dark day for devolution” and added the ruling showed that devolution was “fundamentally flawed.”

Mr Yousaf decided to proceed with the legal challenge shortly after succeeding Nicola Sturgeon – a passionate supporter of trans rights – as first minister in March.

The issue has proved divisive for the Scottish government, and the other candidates for the party leadership earlier this year – Kate Forbes and Ash Regan – were both opposed to the legislation.

Ms Forbes stated after the Court of Session ruling that the government should not appeal the case any further.

Ross Greer, of the Scottish Greens, said any move to scrap legal action would be “a bitter, bitter disappointment”.

He also told BBC Radio Scotland’s Drivetime programme that it would show devolution “can be overruled and vetoed by a UK secretary of state from a party that Scotland didn’t actually want.”

Mr Greer added that he would expect the Scottish government to always act in the best interests of the trans community, a community he said had been “horribly vilified” recently.

It is understood the Scottish government will continue to consider alternative ways forward despite the decision not to appeal.

The Scottish government has been approached for comment.


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