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by Staff reporter
13 April 2023
Ash Regan warns of ‘humiliating defeat’ over gender reform challenge

Ash Regan warns of ‘humiliating defeat’ over gender reform challenge

The Scottish Government’s decision to take the UK Government to court over its block on gender recognition reforms will result in a “humiliating defeat”, the former community safety minister Ash Regan has warned.

Ash Regan – who quit her government role last year to vote against the Gender Recognition Reform Bill – also called for a “rethink” of the policy given it has lost the SNP members.

Shirley-Anne Somerville, the social justice secretary, confirmed the government would lodge a petition for judicial review of the unprecedented use of section 35 powers yesterday.

Scottish secretary Alister Jack created the section 35 order in January to prevent the bill being submitted for Royal assent, citing concerns of its impacts on the Equality Act – a reserved piece of legislation.

Regan, who had stood on the recent SNP leadership contest in which she committed not to challenging the UK Government on its veto, tweeted: “The decision to challenge the section 35 will result in a humiliating defeat.

“The GRR [Gender Recognition Reform Bill] is deeply unpopular amongst Scottish voters and court action will cost a vast amount of taxpayers money.

“Losing 30k party members over this policy means it’s time for a rethink.”

Joanna Cherry, another vocal critic of her party’s policy to introduce self-identification into the process for legally changing one’s gender, said she “cannot understand” the decision.

She tweeted: “I cannot understand why [the Scottish Government] is taking legal action it’s unlikely to win rather than sorting out the problems with the [Gender Recognition Reform Bill] at home.

“Reform could be effected in Scotland without breaching equality or human rights law if there was the will so to do.”

Meanwhile, the Scottish Greens have hinted they may have walked away from the Bute House Agreement if the Scottish Government had refused to launch a legal challenge.

Asked on the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland, equalities spokesperson Maggie Chapman said: “It was very, very clear that this was a key principle for us as part of the Bute House Agreement, and I’m very pleased that Humza Yousaf has taken the decision to challenge this in court.”

Yousaf had intimated throughout the SNP leadership contest that he would challenge the UK Government.

At a hustings event last month, he said: “There are a range of views on GRR, I accept that. But this is about the principal of our democracy. If we cave in, if we roll over to a Westminster power grab, they will come after legislation after legislation after legislation.”

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