Labour is the party of equality and human rights, and we are determined to deliver reforms to the Gender Recognition Act 2004 in which both trans people and the wider public can have confidence.
The SNP have failed to do this, drafting a substandard piece of legislation and not attempting to build consensus around the reforms in the bill. This bill should have been about improving the lives of trans people but instead, the vacuum in political leadership has allowed the debate to be dominated by division and distrust instead of openness and discussion.
When we supported the Bill at Stage 1, we were clear that significant improvements were needed if it was to have the public’s confidence. At every stage of the bill Scottish Labour has sought to deliver these changes and we are continuing to do this at Stage 3.
Scottish Labour have called for the Scottish Government to address concerns, including those raised by some women, and to build public confidence in the reforms we have lodged a series of amendments that will address concerns head on while protecting the principles of the bill.
Our amendments seek to respond to the concerns that have been raised around the bill by clarifying the primacy of the Equality Act 2010, ensuring single-sex spaces are protected, improving the requirements in the application process so that it is robust. Scottish Labour amendments also seek to strengthen the obligations on the Scottish government to publish guidance and carry out monitoring and review of the law.
In considering this legislation and drafting our proposed amendments Scottish Labour representatives have spoken to as many stakeholder groups and campaigners as possible, including:
- The Trans Youth Commission
- The Scottish Trans Alliance
- Equality Network
- LGBT Youth Scotland
- LGBT Labour
- The Law Society
- Bayswater Support Group
- Reem Alsalem, UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women and Girls its causes and consequences
- Frontline Feminists Scotland
- Labour Women’s Declaration
- The Equality and Human Rights Commission
- The Scottish Human Rights Commission
- A delegation of MPs from Victoria, Australia
- The Sandyford Clinic
- Keep Prisons Single Sex
Their insight and advice has been invaluable and has helped to ensure that the changes we propose will deliver stronger, clearer legislation.
Scottish Labour amendments will require the Scottish Government to give clear advice to public bodies and the wider public on how the law, and its interaction with the Equality Act provisions including on single sex spaces, will operate in practice.
This will help to ensure that public bodies deliver the reformed gender recognition process that trans people need and understand their responsibilities to everyone, including women and girls, under the Equality Act.
It is imperative that all parties start working together to deliver a simplified and de-medicalised gender recognition process that brings people together and protects human rights across the board.