Sun, 21 July 2024

Newsletter sign-up

Subscribe now
The House Live All
By Ben Guerin
Press releases

LGBT+ Tories Call For Meeting With Scotland Secretary Over "Toxic" Constitutional Row

LGBT+ Conservatives is the affiliated national organisation for lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans Conservatives and people who support them (Alamy)

4 min read

A group representing LGBT+ Conservatives have called for Scotland Secretary Alister Jack to meet with them, arguing that trans people are “caught up in an increasingly toxic independence, constitutional debate” between Holyrood and Westminster after the government decided to override the Gender Recognition Reform Bill.

The Westminster government has said it will use a Section 35 order to block the Scottish government's gender recognition reform legislation citing concerns over its impact on UK-wide legislation.

The legislation, passed by MSPs last month, seeks to make it easier for trans people to legally change their gender, but Scotland Secretary Alister Jack has used the Section 35 order to block the legislation – the first time this power has ever been used. 

LGBT+ Conservatives is the affiliated national organisation for lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans Conservatives and people who support them.

In a statement, the group said: “The fight for trans equality is not over. LGBT+ Conservatives are unequivocal in our support for the trans community, advocating not just for an advancement in legal rights, but more importantly, acceptance, kindness, and understanding from the wider population.

“It is regrettable that trans people, already facing great anguish and challenge, now face being caught up in an increasingly toxic independence, constitutional debate between Holyrood and Westminster, when the issue that really matters is the advancement of equality.”

LGBT+ Conservatives called for the Secretary of State for Scotland and the Scottish government to “come together with conviction” and meet the group to discuss the issue. 

Making a statement in the Commons, Jack told MPs that using the order was a last resort, and not something that would become commonplace.

He insisted the UK government believes that “transgender people deserve our respect, our support and our understanding” but said the bill risks creating two different gender recognition regimes across different countries in the UK. 

“I have not taken this decision lightly,” he said. “The government has looked closely at the potential impact of the Bill and I’ve considered all relevant policy and operational implications together with the minister for women and equalities.

“It is our assessment that the Bill would have a serious adverse impact among other things on the operation of the Equality Act 2010.

“The government shares the concerns of many members of the public and civic society groups regarding the potential impact of the Bill on women and girls.

“The Bill also risks creating significant complications from having two different gender recognition regimes in the UK and allowing more fraudulent or bad faith applications.

He said the proposed gender reform bill would affect the operation of single-sex clubs, associations and schools and protections such as equal pay.

As Jack announced the government would block the reforms, some SNP MPs shouted “shame” in the Commons. 

Addressing parliament, the shadow Scottish secretary Ian Murray accused the UK and Scottish governments of refusing to work together.

“Trans people who suffer intense discrimination will now not see this legislation take effect any time soon if at all,” he said.

“Women’s rights groups will likely not see their concerns addressed or their fears alleviated because the simple truth is, this has turned into a constitutional bunfight.”

Speaking at a press conference on Monday morning, First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon echoed these comments, accusing the UK government of using trans people as a “political weapon” and adding that moving the stop the legislation would be “unconscionable and indefensible and really quite disgraceful”. 

“We will absolutely robustly and vigorously, and with a very, very, very high degree of confidence, defend the legislation,” she said.

PoliticsHome Newsletters

PoliticsHome provides the most comprehensive coverage of UK politics anywhere on the web, offering high quality original reporting and analysis: Subscribe

Read the most recent article written by Zoe Crowther - New Lib Dem MP Rejects "Binary" NIMBY VS YIMBY Debate