'Wide range of voices' sought as MSPs open gender reform consultation
Public asked to share views on planned legal changes
MSPs have today issued a call to the public to give their views on controversial plans to overhaul gender recognition legislation.
Joe FitzPatrick MSP, convenor of the Equalities, Human Rights and Civil Justice Committee, has appealed for a "wide range of voices" to come forward.
The Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill seeks to make it easier for trans people to obtain a gender recognition certificate. The documentation gives legal recognition of a person's acquired gender and allows them to obtain a new birth certificate.
At present, a person must live in their acquired gender for two years and gain medical evidence to obtain the paperwork, something campaigners for change say is a slow and bureaucratic process that takes a financial and emotional toll on individuals.
Under the provisions of the bill, an application for a certificate could be made after three months of living in an acquired gender, with an additional three-month reflection period. Medical diagnosis or evidence will no longer be required.
The making of false statutory declarations will be punishable with up to two years' imprisonment. Financial penalties are also possible.
But several women's rights groups have raised concerns about the move to self-declaration and say this could have implications for safeguarding and the sex-based rights protected under the Equality Act.
Debate over the issue has been intense and divisive.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said that, if passed, the measures will not change the legal protections that women have "in any way, shape or form". However, Meghan Gallacher of the Scottish Conservatives says the legislation does not protect women's rights and "the concerns of women are legitimate, they are reasonable, they are honestly and sincerely held".
Launching the consultation, FitzPatrick said: "This bill would simplify the process by which transgender people in Scotland can gain legal recognition.
“We have launched this call for views to hear from you about your views on the key changes in the bill, such as the removal of the need for medical evidence and reducing the minimum age for applications.
“This consultation marks the first step in the committee’s scrutiny of the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill. It is vital that we hear from a wide range of voices as part of our inquiry. The views of people and organisations from across the country are crucial to ensuring that this bill is properly considered.”
The window for submissions closes on 16 May. Responses can be submitted via this link.