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Rishi Sunak-led UK government likely to block Scotland’s gender reform legislation

LondonEdited By: PrishaUpdated: Dec 23, 2022, 09:33 PM IST
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Photograph:(AFP)

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To prevent the legislation from becoming law, the UK government can block Royal Assent, when the King gives his formal agreement to the Bill and it takes the shape of an Act of the Scottish Parliament.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak-led UK government is likely to block Scotland’s gender reform law, which will make the process of changing gender easier for people. The move comes after Scottish lawmakers on Thursday passed a contentious law which made it both easier  and faster for its citizens to change their genders, despite facing protest from within the ruling Scottish National Party (SNP) and "concerns" by the UK government. 

However, the passing of legislation leads to a clash with the UK government, which has raised concerns over children's and women’s safety. Scottish government’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said that they will fight all the attempts made to stop the law.  

The legislation, which received 86 votes in favour and 39 in opposition in the devolved parliament of Scotland in Edinburgh, removed the need for a gender dysphoria medical diagnosis if a person wants to change his/her gender.

"The motion is therefore agreed and the Gender Recognition Reform Scotland Bill is passed," said presiding officer Alison Johnstone, responding to the public gallery's loud applause. To prevent the legislation from becoming law, the UK government can block the Royal Assent, when the King gives his formal agreement to the Bill and it takes the shape of an Act of the Scottish Parliament.

UK Minister for Women and Equalities Kemi Badenoch said that the bill’s implications on the lives of girls and women have not been considered by the Scottish government. She said in a statement: "The UK government is now looking at provisions that can prompt reconsideration and allow MSPs to address these issues."

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As per the legislation, people between the age of 16 and 17 will now be permitted to change their gender. The law has further reduced the required time an applicant needs to live in their new gender before its official recognition from two years to three months and in the case of 16 and 17-year-old citizens, the time required is six months.

The applicant will also be provided an additional time of three months as a reflection period during which the applicant who has initiated the process or considering changing the gender can change their decision. However, the Scottish government argues that the Equality Act will not be impacted by the legislation, which permits transgenders to be excluded from single-sex spaces like changing rooms.

Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who has battled the biggest internal opposition over the legislation in her tenure of eight years, said that the older system for altering gender was "intrusive, traumatic and dehumanising". 

(With inputs from agencies)