Nicola Sturgeon: Gender reforms won't give predatory men more access to women
The First Minister has said that the passing of the Gender Recognition Reform Bill will not give predatory men more access to women as she was challenged on the legislation by Douglas Ross.
The Scottish Tory leader raised the matter during FMQs, specifically questioning why an amendment tabled by the SNP’s Michelle Thomson on preventing those charged with rape from obtaining in gender recognition certificate (GRC) was voted down.
“The First Minister's own vote means that a man standing trial for rape can claim they're a woman and force a victim to call them she. Why did the First Minister vote for this?” Ross asked.
The amendment in question resulted in a tied vote, with 61 MSPs voting for it and 61 MSPs voting against. In such circumstances it is parliamentary convention for the Presiding Officer to cast the deciding vote in favour of the status quo, thereby voting down the amendment.
Speaking on Tuesday, Thomson told MSPs her amendment aimed to pause applications for GRCs from men “charged with a sexual offence but not yet convicted and placed on the sexual offenders’ register”.
But government ministers had raised concerns that agreeing the amendment would make the bill incompatible with the European Convention of Human Rights, and therefore be outwith the competence of the Scottish Parliament.
In response to Ross, Nicola Sturgeon said the bill would not make a difference to how predatory men access women.
She said: “My argument is not, and it has never been and never will be, that these are not very real ways in which predatory men abuse women. My argument is that none of these ways are created by this bill and nor would it be the case that any of these ways are addressed by denying rights to trans people.”
Ross insisted that neither he nor his party was against reform to make life better for the trans community, but that the “First Minister’s reforms” were not supported by the public.
Defending the bill generally, Sturgeon said: “I'm a feminist, I will argue for women's rights, I will do everything I can to protect women's rights for as long as I live. But I also think it's an important part of my responsibility to make life a little bit easier for stigmatised minorities in our country.”
The final debate on the bill is currently underway and is expected to pass with the support of SNP, Labour, Green and Lib Dem MSPs. However, several SNP MSPs are extended to rebel.