Government has not come to decision on gender appeal, says Yousaf

The First Minister said the Government would work ‘at pace’ on whether to appeal (Jane Barlow/PA)
The First Minister said the Government would work ‘at pace’ on whether to appeal (Jane Barlow/PA)

The Scottish Government has not come to a decision on whether to appeal against the Court of Session’s gender reform ruling, Humza Yousaf has said as he pledged to work “with pace”.

The Scottish Government has just three weeks to decide if it will appeal against the ruling – which found that the UK Government’s blocking of the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill using Section 35 of the Scotland Act was lawful.

The legislation, if enacted, would make it easier for transgender people to acquire a gender recognition certificate (GRC), changing their legal sex by, among other changes, removing the requirement for a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria.

Alister Jack
Scottish Secretary Alister Jack made an order blocking the legislation (Victoria Jones/PA)

The Bill caused controversy during its passage last year, with opponents claiming it could endanger the safety and rights of women and girls while its supporters – including the Scottish Government – said it was a minor clerical change that would affect a small number of trans people in Scotland.

The First Minister has come under pressure – including from former leadership rival Kate Forbes – to drop the legal challenge and scrap the Bill.

Speaking to the PA news agency, the First Minister said: “We will consider legal advice, we’ll consider, of course, other factors with urgency and with pace.

“There’s a very narrow window, as you know, to make a decision on any appeal.

“We’ve not come to a decision yet because we have to consider, as I say, important issues like the legal advice.

“And as soon as we have an update to give Parliament, we’ll make sure they’re informed in due course.”

Scottish Secretary Alister Jack, who made the order to block the legislation, said in a written statement submitted to the Commons he was concerned the Bill would impact on “important Great Britain-wide equality protections”.

“My decision was about the legislation’s consequences for the operation of GB-wide equalities protections and other reserved matters,” he said.

“As I set out when I made the Section 35 order, transgender people deserve our respect, support and understanding.”

Meanwhile, Alba Party Holyrood leader Ash Regan has tabled a motion at Holyrood calling for the legislation to be scrapped.

“Hundreds of thousands of pounds have already been wasted and it would be unimaginable for the Scottish Government to appeal this decision and then ultimately proceed to a situation of potentially asking the UK Supreme Court to overturn a decision of Scotland’s highest court,” she said.

“I resigned from the Government as I simply could not support legislation that is so ill thought out, opposed by women’s groups across Scotland and a fundamental risk to the safety of women and girls.

“The Scottish Government lost the battle in court and they will further lose the support of the people of Scotland if they keep pursuing this policy.

“I urge Humza Yousaf to now completely scrap his Government’s gender reforms.”