Former SNP leadership contender Kate Forbes has cautioned against prolonging the legal battle following the Scottish Government’s defeat over Holyrood’s gender reform laws. The Court of Session ruled that the UK Government lawfully used a Section 35 order of the Scotland Act to block the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill.
Legal Battle Fallout: The defeat incurred a cost of £230,000 for the Scottish Government, prompting a critical decision within three weeks on whether to appeal the ruling at the Supreme Court. First Minister Humza Yousaf expressed concerns over the “fundamentally flawed” nature of devolution following the Court’s decision.
The Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill: The legislation aimed to simplify the process for transgender individuals to obtain a gender recognition certificate (GRC) and change their legally recognized sex. The Court’s ruling supported the UK Government’s use of the Section 35 order, contending that reserved equality laws could be altered by the Scottish legislation.
Lady Haldane’s Ruling: Lady Haldane, who presided over the case, dismissed arguments from Lord Advocate Dorothy Bain, stating that the Scottish Secretary’s use of the Section 35 order was not due to a policy disagreement. The ruling highlighted concerns that the Scottish legislation could alter reserved equality laws.
Yousaf’s Contemplation and Forbes’ Warning: First Minister Yousaf announced his intention to take time to consider the judgment. However, leadership rival Kate Forbes cautioned against appealing, emphasizing that it could “exacerbate” divisions rather than heal them.
Forbes’ Call for Collaboration: Instead, Forbes urged the First Minister to collaborate with MSPs to develop a “reformed” Bill that accommodates concerns from both sides of the debate. On X, formerly Twitter, Forbes emphasized the need to avoid further legal battles, stating that it could deepen existing divisions and create uncertainty for trans people and women.
Reformed Bill for Unity: Forbes stressed the importance of giving security and clarity to both trans people and women. She called for a reformed Bill that listens to all perspectives, expressing confidence in citizens and democratic processes to safeguard rights.
Gender Reforms in Leadership Contest: During the recent SNP leadership contest, gender reforms were a significant part of the debate. Forbes, a vocal critic of the proposals in their current form, disclosed that she would not have supported the Bill if she had been in parliament during the crucial vote.
The defeat in the legal battle has raised questions about the future of gender reforms in Scotland, with Forbes advocating for a collaborative and reformed approach to address concerns from all sides.
Re-reported from the article originally published in The NewsChains