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by Ruaraidh Gilmour
27 June 2023
Scotland’s Gender Recognition Reform Bill court challenge set for September

People protesting Westminster's decision to block Scotland's gender reform legislation | Alamy

Scotland’s Gender Recognition Reform Bill court challenge set for September

The Scottish Government will challenge Westminster’s decision to block the Gender Recognition Reform (GRR) Bill in court in September.  

The GRR bill, aimed at making it easier for people living in Scotland to obtain a gender recognition certificate through self-ID rather than medical diagnosis, was blocked by the UK Government over fears of how it would impact the UK-wide Equality Act (2010).  

The Scottish Government will argue its case at the Court of Session in Edinburgh in a three-day hearing between 19 and 21 September. It will be heard by judge Lady Haldane.  

The judge, who ruled in 2022 that the definition of sex was "not limited to biological or birth sex", said that in the context of the Equality Act (2010), sex referred to a person's sex recognised by law, not their biological sex.  

The legal challenge was brought after Scottish Secretary Alister Jack used Section 35 of the Scotland Act, blocking the legislation from Royal Assent – something which had never been done since the Scottish Parliament was reformed in 1999.  

First Minister Humza Yousaf said failing to challenge the use of Section 35 would "signal that the UK government can veto any legislation they disagree with at a whim".  

He added that taking legal action was the "only means of defending our parliament's democracy from the Westminster veto".  

At the time Jack said: “The government has looked closely at the potential impact of the bill and I have considered all relevant policy and operational implications, together with the Minister for Women and Equalities.  

“And it is our assessment that the bill would have a serious adverse impact, among other things, on the operation of the Equality Act 2010.”  

He added: “The government shares the concerns of many members of the public and civic society groups regarding the potential impact of the bill on women and girls.  

“The bill also risks creating significant complications from having two different gender recognition regimes in the UK and allowing more fraudulent or bad faith applications.”

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