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by Staff reporter
06 October 2022
Johann Lamont warns MSPs they must 'understand the laws of unintended consequences'

Johann Lamont at the Scottish Women's Rally

Johann Lamont warns MSPs they must 'understand the laws of unintended consequences'

Former Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont warned MSPs they must “understand the laws of unintended consequences” at the Scottish Women’s Rally, held by For Women Scotland, outside of the Scottish Parliament.   

In her impassioned speech responding to the majority of MSPs on the Equalities, Human Rights and Civil Justice Committee who have agreed to the general principles of the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill, Lamont told the crowd that “this is not state-funded activism, this is women coming together and saying we want to stand up for women, we want to speak out for women, and we want to change women’s lives”.  

The proposed reform, introduced by Shona Robison MSP in March, will remove the need for applicants to have a diagnosis of gender dysphoria to have their sex changed on legal records. It reduces the minimum age for this from 18 to 16 and cuts the length of time that applicants must have lived in their acquired gender from two years to three months.    

It also introduces a specific offence of knowingly making a false statutory declaration, which will carry a maximum sentence of two years imprisonment and/or a fine, if passed.   

The reform has had pushback from women’s groups, as they believe the reform could open loopholes for predatory men to gain access to vulnerable women.    

Lamont made it clear that her views were not from a hateful place, but from a place of concern for women, and told the crowd that young men arguing for progressive politics are holding back women’s fight for equality and had been like that for the last 40 years.    

She told the crowd: “I was told 40 years ago by young men that now is not the time, that there were other campaigns that matter, other people that are vulnerable. And I said then if you don’t address women’s inequality, we will never have true equality and that is as true now as it was then.     

“These young men may think they are speaking for progressive politics. I am telling you, their brothers 40 years ago, who said women’s role was to stay at home, are in the same tradition. They need to wake up and understand where real inequality is.”     

The former Scottish Labour leader continued: “I never imagined that a Scottish minister, challenged not about trans rights, but about loopholes through which male predators would move, that a Scottish minister would say that no man has ever pretended in order to access vulnerable women.      

“Well, I don’t know where you have been. Do you not know about the coaches, the teachers, the ministers, the priests, and the people in care homes? Are you not listening to what has been said at the national inquiry into child sexual abuse, that is going on at this very moment,” said Lamont.    

“This is not about the rights of any particular group, but it is about understanding the way in which predatory male behaviour has blighted the lives of far too many, for too long. And it ought not to be the Scottish Parliament, which is open, transparent, and committed to responding to the rights of people in this country. It ought not to be them, who give a green light to this predatory behaviour and dismiss and mock those who have the courage to speak up.” 

The former MSP for Glasgow Pollok told the crowd about her optimism when the Scottish Parliament was formed in 1999, and how her hopes for the parliament have not materialised.    

Lamont said: “It was a parliament where policy, action, and law were shaped by an understanding of what created division and inequality. And the particular role was for the committees to which would breach the wall of the parliament and allow the people of Scotland to participate in what the world could be. That has not happened.     

“In this particular policy, it is our challenge to MSPs to understand that it is not their job to outsource their politics to lobbying organisations. It is not their job before the committee meets to decide who they will listen to, and who they will speak to, and only listen to those who already agree with them.    

“I am not saying that the committee should agree with everything that we say, but they should listen, they should challenge, they should argue, they should probe, they should not dismiss.” 

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