Consideration of gender reform amendments begins after Tory delays

A marathon session of Holyrood has begun to consider amendments to controversial gender reforms, following attempts by Scottish Conservatives to delay it.

More than 150 changes to the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill will be voted on by MSPs on Tuesday, ranging from background checks on applicants, potential penalties for fraudulently obtaining a GRC, the impact of the Equality Act Bill and a review of trans inmates.

The session at Holyrood began with apparent attempts by the Scottish Conservatives to delay debate, tabling four amendments to Parliament’s Orders of the Day from four different Members, forcing a vote on the timetable for considering the amendments, raising another motion on which the MSPs had to vote on. and a number of points of order in the House.

After a delay of more than an hour, MSPs began debating the amendments in a session that was due to end after 10 p.m. Tuesday and run until Wednesday before the final vote.

Opponents of the bill, which would make it easier for trans people to obtain a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC), fear it could pose a danger to women and girls, particularly around the provision of single-sex spaces.

But the Scottish government has repeatedly insisted the legislation will not impact the Equality Act, which allows trans people to be excluded from single-sex spaces such as changing rooms and shelters. , which was confirmed by an earlier amendment by Labour’s Pam Duncan. – Glancy.

The bill will make it easier for trans people to obtain a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC) by removing the requirement for a diagnosis of gender dysphoria.

It will also lower the minimum age for applicants from 18 to 16 and cut the time it takes for an applicant to live in their acquired gender from two years to three months – six for people aged 16 and 17 – but with a three months later. reflection period.

The bill is expected to pass this week (David Cheskin/PA)

Despite the controversy that has pervaded debate over the bill in recent months, the legislation is likely to pass in a vote on Wednesday at Holyrood, given the broad support among the SNP, Scottish Greens, Scottish Labor and the Lib Dems.

In the first stage of voting on the bill, seven SNP MPs voted against the bill – including former Community Safety Minister Ash Regan, who resigned in the hours before the vote – while two others abstained.

Ms Regan said when considering the amendments that she would not support the bill, while fellow SNP MSP Kenneth Gibson hinted he would again rebel against the bill.

Meanwhile, more than 60 LGBT+ groups have written to MSPs, urging them to support the bill and reject amendments that would change the “fundamental principles” of the legislation.

The groups say the legislation should be based on the making of a statutory declaration, the minimum age for application should be 16, and the effects of a DRM should remain the same as in the original recognition law. gender.

On Monday, Victor Madrigal-Borloz, UN expert on gender identity, and Reem Alsalem, UN special rapporteur on violence against women, addressed members of the Holyrood Equalities Committee ahead of the debate .

Ms Alsalem said plans to introduce self-identification could see violent men take advantage of loopholes “to enter women-only spaces and gain access to women”.

However, Mr Madrigal-Borloz told the more than two-hour committee meeting that there was “no evidence” that “maintaining complexity in the gender identity recognition process would be an effective guarantee”.

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