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by Kirsteen Paterson
17 August 2023
Anas Sarwar: 'Everbody has lost' since MSPs passed Scottish gender recognition reforms

Anas Sarwar: 'Everbody has lost' since MSPs passed Scottish gender recognition reforms

"Everybody has lost" since MSPs passed new gender recognition reforms, Scottish Labour Anas Sarwar has said.

Labour MSPs were whipped to vote in favour of the Gender Recognition Reform (GRR) Bill in December.

It took two days of debate to take the legislation through parliament, but it was vetoed by the UK Government, which found that it would impact on the cross-border Equalities Act.

The Scottish Government has gone to court over the matter and a preliminary hearing took place this week, with three days of legal process scheduled for next month.

The bill seeks to make it easier and faster for people to obtain legal recognition of their chosen gender, removing the need for a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria to bring in a system of self-identification and allowing 16 and 17 year olds to use this system.

Critics claim it lacks sufficient safeguarding and threatens the provision of single-sex spaces and services for women.

Last month, the Labour party said it would reform UK gender recognition laws, but would not remove the need for a medical diagnosis, something which put it at odds with the Scottish Labour position.

UK Labour Keir Starmer said: "We don't agree that self-identification is the right way forward."

Now Sarwar has signalled a shift in Scottish Labour's stance.

He said he would continue to support the bill in principle, but would not confirm that he would vote for the legislation again.

He said: "I've been reflective about this since the passing of the GRR Bill, and I've been open in saying that it feels like everybody has lost since the passing of the GRR Bill. 

"I don't think our trans community feel any more protected since passing of the GRR Bill, I don't think women feel any more reassured since the passing of the GRR Bill, but I still continue to believe that it's right for us to want to remove the indignities and the inhumanities in the process of obtaining a GRC (Gender Recognition Certificate)."

Calling for action by both the Scottish and UK governments, as well as a key human rights body, he went on: "We still have work to do to make sure that we are protecting single-sex spaces based on biological sex, to make sure we have stronger protections when it comes to sex offenders - when it comes to those convicted of sexual offences, for example, rape - and I think the government should reflect that they didn't go far enough and accepting amendments, and we should allow the Equality and Human Rights Commission to do its job, to look at where there are any inconsistencies in legislation and both governments commit to addressing those inconsistencies, because right now, everybody's lost."

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