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by Staff reporter
03 February 2023
Rishi Sunak: ‘Biological sex’ key in protecting women-only spaces

Rishi Sunak: ‘Biological sex’ key in protecting women-only spaces

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has said it is “biological sex” which matters when it comes to protecting women-only spaces, including female prisons.

Asked about the case of Isla Bryson – a convicted rapist who was initially held in a women’s prison to await sentencing – Sunak said it showed “some of the challenges” around gender recognition laws.

He added that those questioning their gender and identity must be shown “enormous compassion and tolerance and understanding.

But he went on to say: “For me, whether it's sex, whether it’s women’s spaces, whether it’s prisons, biological sex really matters.”

The Prime Minister was speaking on TalkTV’s Piers Morgan Uncensored to mark 100 days in office.

He was asked to define what a woman was, to which he said an “adult human female”.

But going on to discuss how society treats trans people and the interaction of rights around sex and gender, he said it was important to “recognise the challenges that that poses, particularly for women’s safety”.

Isla Bryson was found guilty of raping two women by a Glasgow court last month and was initially sent to Cornton Vale prison in Stirling, though segregated from the female prison population, before being moved to HMP Edinburgh.

At first minister’s questions yesterday, Nicola Sturgeon refused to say whether Bryson was a man or a woman.

She said she did not have “enough information” to say either way, though she accepted it was “almost certainly the case” that Bryson was pretending to be trans.

This view was supported by transport minister Jenny Gilruth when the matter was discussed on Question Time on Thursday evening.

On trans prisoners more broadly, Gilruth added: “We trust the Scottish Prison Service to make these judgements on behalf of Scottish ministers. That is their role, that is their job.”

The prison service’s current policy on trans prisoners is to undertake individual risk assessments to consider whether they should be housed in the male or female prison estate.

That policy is currently under review, and the Scottish Government this week announced a ban on prisoners with a history of violence against women serving time in the female prison estate.

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