UK government attempts to block Scotland’s new gender recognition law


The UK government has blocked a new law intended to allow trans people in Scotland to change their legal gender without a medical diagnosis – a controversial move that has added fuel to the already highly emotional debate over Scottish independence.

Scottish Secretary Alastair Jack announced on Monday that Westminster had taken the highly unusual step of preventing the Scotland Bill from becoming law because of concerns about its impact on equality laws across the UK.

Here’s what you need to know:

Scotland passed a new law in December to make it easier for people to change their legal gender.

Under the current system, trans people must jump through a number of hoops to change the gender on their documents. They must have a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria — a condition defined by distress caused by a discrepancy between a person’s body and their gender — and prove they have lived in their chosen gender for two years. They must be at least 18 years old.

The new laws will eliminate the need for medical diagnosis, moving instead to self-diagnosis. The waiting period will be reduced from two years to six months and the age limit will be reduced to 16 years.

Campaigners have long argued that the current process is too bureaucratic, expensive and intrusive. The Scottish Government held two major public consultations on the issue and proposed new simple rules.

“We think that trans people should not have to go through a humiliating, invasive, oppressive and oppressive process to get legal recognition in their living gender,” the government said as it proposed the new rules.

In the end, an overwhelming majority of Scottish lawmakers voted in favor of the change – the final tally was 86 in favor and 39 against.

The bill provoked an emotional reaction from both sides. The debate on the motion was one of the longest, most heated in the history of the Scottish Parliament, with the final vote being postponed after lawmakers were interrupted by protesters shouting “shame”.

Many human rights and equality organizations and campaigners welcomed the new laws, pointing to the growing number of democracies where self-determination is the norm.

The Equality Network, a leading Scottish LGBTI rights group, said that “after years of increasing public prejudice against trans people, things are starting to move forward”.

But the bill also attracted a large amount of criticism, including from “Harry Potter” author JK Rowling, who said it could have a negative impact on the rights of women and girls.

Rowling and other opponents of the bill argue that the new rules will weaken the protections of spaces designed to make women feel safe, such as women-only shelters.

The Scottish Government has rejected that argument, saying the law does not change the rules about who can and cannot access single-sex spaces. It also states that the experience of countries that have made similar changes has not had an adverse effect on other groups.

The campaigners agreed. Campaign group Stonewall said: “There are no downsides. “When Ireland did that, for example, it didn’t affect anyone except trans people, who for the first time were able to direct and empower their gender by the state.”

Scotland has a devolved government, which means that most, but not all, decisions are made in the Scottish Parliament at Holyrood in Edinburgh.

Scots can pass their own laws on issues such as health care, education and the environment, while the UK Parliament at Westminster is in charge of issues including defence, national security, immigration and foreign policy.

The UK Government can stop Scottish Bills from becoming law, but only in very specific circumstances – for example, if it believes that the Scottish Bill is incompatible with any international agreement, the interests of defense and national security, or if it believes that the Bill is outside Scotland’s powers. would conflict with a UK wide law on a forest issue.

Under the rules outlining how Scotland is governed, London has four weeks to review a bill after it is passed by Holyrood, before it is sent to the king for royal assent, the final formal step before it becomes law. .

The issue is highly contentious as tensions between London and Edinburgh are already high over the issue of Scottish independence.

When Scotland last held a referendum in 2014, voters rejected the prospect of independence by 55% to 45%.

However, things have changed since then, largely due to Brexit.

The pro-independence Scottish National Party has argued that the people of Scotland voted to remain in the EU in a 2016 referendum and pushed for a new independence vote, forcing Scots out of the EU against their will.

The UK government has said it will not agree to a new independence vote, and Britain’s Supreme Court ruled in November that the Scottish government cannot unilaterally hold a second independence referendum.

This is breaking news and will be updated.


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