Rishi Sunak is threatening to block a new law that would make Scotland the first part of the UK to introduce a system of self-identification for people who want to change gender. The Scottish Government hailed what it called a “a historic day for equality” after a vote in Holyrood on Thursday afternoon making it easier for those who want to change their gender.
As a result of the vote that passed 86-39 following three days of debate in the Edinburgh chamber, the system for obtaining a gender recognition certificate (GRC) will be streamlined for 16 to 17-year-olds.
It will move to a system of self identification for gender change rather than relying on a medical opinion or examination.
Immediately after the vote, however, Scottish secretary, Alister Jack said that ministers had concerns about aspects of the bill including the implications for the safety of women and children.
He said: “We share the concerns that many people have regarding certain aspects of this bill, and in particular the safety issues for women and children.
“We will look closely at that, and also the ramifications for the 2010 Equality Act and other UK-wide legislation, in the coming weeks – up to and including a section 35 order stopping the bill going for royal assent if necessary.”
The women and equalities minister, Kemi Badenoch met her Holyrood counterpart Shona Robison, on Monday to discuss the bill.
Ms Badenoch claimed that the Scottish government had “not addressed the full implications of their bill – especially on the lives of women and girls”.
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Under Section 35 of the Scotland Act the Scottish secretary is permitted to make an order prohibiting Holyrood’s presiding officer from submitting a bill for royal assent.
This can be done if the secretary of state believes that there are reasonable grounds that a bill will have an adverse on the operation of the law as it applies to reserved matters.
However such a move would be very likely to be challenged by Edinburgh through a judicial review or a direct reference to the Supreme Court.